A New Israeli Smartphone App Lets Users Know The Health Status Of Israeli Waterways

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Thanks to a network of Israeli divers, and the Health Ministry, Israeli non-profit environmental association Zalul is now keeping the public up to date on the condition of the country’s waterways.

By commissioning road-navigation app developer Waze to add a water-pollution application to its popular smart phone service, the founders of  Zalul hope to promote safer swimming in addition to pressure on polluters.

While Israel is primarily an arid country, it boasts an arterial network of rivers, lakes and streams.  Major rivers such as the Alexander,  Yarkon,  Yarmuk and Kishon are unfit for swimming, says Maya Jacobs, executive director of  Zalul.

She partnered with Waze to bring attention to the gravity of the problem during  Sukkot. Today the Israeli public celebrates much of the week long holiday by hiking,  swimming and camping.  Jacobs saw it as a perfect time to launch Zalul’s pollution-alert feature.

I was driving with a friend of mine using Waze when all these pop-ups starting coming up. And I thought:  Why don’t we use them to show people where the rivers are polluted?” she tells ISRAEL21c.

When a logged-in user comes within about 12 miles of a waterway, the application will identify it, inform the user of its health status and identify polluters by way of a pop-up alert. During Sukkot, the organization sent users 120,000 alerts – including one warning of a sewage overflow in Tel Aviv that flooded a popular beach following the season’s first rain.

Until now, the Israeli public has relied on news reports or signs posted on public beaches.  A real-time alert system would not only be good for public health and safety,  Jacobs reasoned; it would also force polluters to face the consequences of growing public awareness.

Certainly other regions, like Florida’s popular Gulf Coast, could use such an application as well, especially after the 2010 oil spill.

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