The problem: How to get clean water after a disaster
The solution: A lightweight, backpack-sized emergency water purifier system
Region of impact: Global
Home base: San Francisco
Following is a Q&A with Tricia Compas-Markman of DayOne Response. It has been edited for length and clarity.
How did you first decide to tackle the problem?
I studied civil and environmental engineering at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, and during my graduate studies, I worked with Dr. Tryg Lundquist to design and develop what is now the DayOne Waterbag technology. Shortly after graduating, I founded DayOne Response to go beyond an idea and create a solution and thriving business in water treatment technologies for vulnerable populations. The motivation of the work very much stemmed from the natural disasters that were all over the media at the time — the 2004/2005 Southeast Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina — where portable, compact, and easily deployable household water treatment tools were desperately needed.
My own motivation for working on clean drinking water solutions started in my undergraduate work, when I co-founded the Cal Poly university chapter of Engineers without Borders. It was through this experience that I was exposed to what clean drinking water can mean to individuals, children, families and overall communities. I had the privilege of working on designing and implementing a slow-sand filtration system at a local school in the hilltribe communities in Northern Thailand.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned so far?
One of the major lessons I learned early on and that continues to stand true is that technology is only 5% of the overall solution. While the technology is important, there are many factors that affect the overall usability and success in making an impact. These factors include cultural circumstances, user experience, financing, ease-of-use, distribution, supply chain, maintenance, costs and overall business models. All of these factors play an important role in our strategy, our work with partners, and ultimately the true benefit of technology for individuals or communities using these tools day in and day out.
What does being a Tech Awards laureate mean to you?
It’s amazing! It’s a true honor to be recognized along with The Tech Awards laureate cohort for applying technology to confront the main challenges facing humanity today. DayOne Response works tirelessly to create innovations, primarily for drinking water, that address basic needs globally, and it is humbling to be recognized for this award. We are looking forward to engaging the current and past laureates and the overall Tech Awards community to collaborate on these challenges.
This year marks the 15th annual gala of The Tech Awards, often referred to as the Oscars of Silicon Valley. It will take place Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center, where 10 laureates, a Global Humanitarian, and a Laureate Impact Award winner will be honored for their work using technology to benefit humanity.
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