Researchers envision hand pumps that send notifications when running low on water.
Hand pumps installed in rural areas with scarce water supply are helping lots of people, however many of them often break and need frequent maintenance or repairs.
Researchers have developed a new technology that uses a mobile data transmitter to measure how much water is flowing through each pump and send text messages of the data to research teams in Nairobi and Oxford.
If any of the pumps register as not being used, a team can go investigate and make the necessary repairs on that specific pump.
These measured pumps have been installed in nearly 60 villages in the Kyuso district in Kenya as part of a pilot program being funded by the United Kingdom government through the Department for International Development and the Economic and Social Research Council.
Hundreds of millions of Africans use hand pumps to access water in rural areas and up to a month can go by before a broken one is repaired.
Rob Hope from Oxford University told the BBC: “Twenty-four hours is the key aim. Eighty percent of breakdowns are small, involving rubber rings and seals and a mechanic would be able to fix them on the spot.”