When one is thirsty outside, he or she can open the app “Water Refill Map” on a mobile phone and find the nearest spot where clean drinking water is free to use. Developed by Fong Cha Action, a team formed by the EPA and the social enterprise CircuPlus, the app has won the 2020 Presidential Hackathon Award out of over 300 competitors. The EPA was the only government agency that won the honor this year, and received the award from President Tsai Ing-Wen on 20 September 2020 along with four other winning teams.
Heading the panel of judges, Minister Without Portfolio Audrey Tang pointed out that the EPA’s advocacy for open data, along with its help coordinating local environmental bureaus to collect data on all drinking water refill spots, have provided a strong footing for Fong Cha Action. Besides collecting the data on existing water stations, the team also initiated multilateral cooperation through crowd sourcing, inviting enterprises, Friendly Stores, and the general public to share information on any drinking water refill spots.
The team’s name “Fong Cha”, which means “serve tea” in Chinese, reminds people of well-known Taiwanese hospitality. The entire project is the embodiment of such warmth and willingness to help others, and with the help of open-data technology the app makes finding drinking water much easier for people, while also reducing plastic use and greenhouse gas emissions, which are among the goals of the Green Lifestyle Movement.
Taiwan consumes a billion bottles of drinking water per year, not counting bottles for other beverages. Cutting the use of bottled water by a mere 1% per year can lower carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 895 metric tons.
Excerpt from Environmental Policy Monthly, 23 (10)
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)