Last month, seven students presented H2Info, an online resource for people affected by water contamination, in the Randall Family Big Idea Competition. They placed 4th and won the People’s Choice Award; receiving $3,000 to fund their concept.

There are more than 20 million people in the United States who live in areas served by community water systems that are in violation of EPA lead and copper protocols. For these affected, H2Info will be a consolidated resource center that provides both knowledge and solutions.

H2Info will provide the following services to users:

  • An interactive map to view contamination levels/risk of user’s address
  • Lead tests that the user can complete at home and receive the results within a week
  • Water filter recommendations based on the user’s test results and allow them to opt-in for replacement filters to be sent on a schedule
  • A resource for hiring local plumbers or contractors for pipe replacement

Designing for Sustainability

The concept for H2Info was created in Fall 2016 when Raanan Gurewitsch, a sophomore Information Science student, began a chapter of Design for America at Pitt. Design for America is a national network of student communities committed to design, innovation, entrepreneurship, and the capacity to make change.

Once the concept was developed, they entered into the Sustainable Solutions Competition in February. Even though they did not win, they continued to refine their concept and later entered into the Randall Family Big Idea Competition.

“We got a lot of feedback throughout the process that was incredibly helpful,” said Christian Abad, a sophomore student majoring in Marketing. “What we had initially developed was a concept that utilized design and technology to solve a problem. They helped us enhance that concept and also build a business and financial model around it.”

Built to Benefit

Now that the competition is over, the team plans to continue to work on H2Info and build it into a viable Web site. They have been accepted into the Blast Furnace this summer, a program that provides Pitt student entrepreneurs with the knowledge and skills necessary to market their ideas. Through this program, they hope to further refine their business and financial model.

“We have all become very passionate about this project,” said Gurewitsch. “We plan to continue working on H2Info until it makes a lasting impact across the nation.”

The Web site will launch by Fall 2017 with a focus on the Oakland area. The initial site will be an information source while they continue to develop the interactive map and other site contents.

The Randall Family Big Idea Competition is an experience-based learning opportunity for undergraduate and graduate Pitt students with big ideas that offers $100,000 in cash prizes to the ideas with the most promise. It is made possible through the generous support of the Randall Family.

To learn more about Design for America at Pitt, visit their Facebook page or contact Raanan Gurewitsch.

Meet the team:

Name Role Major
Christian Abad Marketing & Outreach lea Marketing major; Computer Science minor
Colin Cusack Financial operations Math and Economics majors
Raanan Gurewitsch Team lead Information Science major, Economics minor
Ryan Rosenbaum Research & Development Mechanical Engineering major
Meera Rubinchik Web design Information Science major
Ryan Scheuer Web design Information Science major
Anna Tomani Research & Development Chemical Engineering major