Anahide Nahhal and Mitsue Elisa Guerrero Monsalve


An Integrated Smart-Water System for Mexico City’s Hydric Crisis

Advised by Cesar A. Hidalgo (SEAS) and Ingeborg Rocker (GSD)

Water is essential to life on Earth. When life and activity are growing, however, the quantity of drinkable water in the world is limited. A 2018 UN report shows that by 2050, half of the global population will suffer from a potable water shortage. The global water crisis is starting to hit the most vulnerable countries and people.

With its demographic increase, Mexico City is one of the cities that will suffer the most from this high water stress. Paradoxically, this city, which was once a water-based city built on a lake, will run out of water in 30 years. This crisis will impact more than 30 million inhabitants in a city challenged by inequality.

Taking a closer look at the water system, we can observe that Mexico Cityis not using its natural water resources sustainably, and this imbalance is leading to a water crisis. Following extensive academic, stakeholder, and extreme-user research, we discovered that water is not perceived as a finite resource. We hypothesize that a tool could help raise awareness of the high water stress and the inequalities in the city, and improve consumption behavior

We are designing an integrated solution to empower citizens with their accountability to their water rights, making water distribution fair and participatory. This solution will include a physical individual IoT smart meter system to provide the missing data, a cap-and-trade water consumption system to distribute water rights equally, and a smartphone application designed using behavioral science to educate on sustainable individual water consumption.

Models and simulations will help us understand the scalability, efficiency, and, later, replicability of this integrated solution.

Anahide Nahhal and Mitsue Elisa Guerrero Monsalve, MDE. Designing for Mexico City's Hydric crisis. An assemblage of items including two smartphones, a map, a copper pipe with an oblong glass shape on top of it, water quality testing items, and an infographic of water sources and usage.