Is silence golden? Of mobiles, monitoring, and rural water supplies
Reliable and cost-effective monitoring of rural water supply infrastructure has long been hampered by the geographical curse of dispersed and low-income populations, and weak institutional performance. Recent advances in monitoring technology combined with mobile network expansion into rural areas has created an opportunity to bypass these seemingly intractable challenges. Mobile-enhanced technologies have the potential to produce data that is orders of magnitude richer, faster, and cheaper than that provided by traditional monitoring methods, which require costly field visits. However, more data does not equate to better data; information generated by crowd-sourced and automated systems each has its respective limitations. We propose a framework for analysing monitoring and surveillance systems, which can help assess the strengths and weaknesses of different emerging approaches. We suggest that these advancements present an opportunity to fundamentally change the way we consider and conduct rural water supply monitoring.