New app Water-kennis allows users to interactively raise their water awareness


On 7 March, KWR launched the location-based app Water-kennis (‘Water Knowledge’). The goal of this interactive mobile app, co-developed with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) as part of the European project ULTIMATE, is to make people aware, in an accessible manner, of sustainable water management and use.

Raül Glotzbach, KWR researcher: “In Water-kennis we want to explain the Dutch water system in a playful way. Where does the water come from, what do we do with the water, and what happens to the water before it returns to the system? We want to get people thinking about this.”

Gamified experience for a wide public

The app users start with a virtual water budget of 120 litres: the average daily water consumption of a person in the Netherlands. Users are led to different locations around the KWR building, where they complete challenges and answer questions.

Joep van den Broeke, also a researcher at KWR, explains: “We have tried to make the app as attractive as possible for a wide public, with a focus on the young. This is why we opted for a gamified experience. We let people learn about where their drinking water comes from in an accessible and playful manner. At the same time, we show what we are working on at KWR.”

By answering questions and completing the challenges in the app, the user’s water budget is determined  at the end of the game; if players answer questions incorrectly they lose a part of their budget. At the end of the game the players must decide how they would use the water that they have remaining from the 120 litres: are they going to take a shower or do they want to wash the laundry? This helps raise awareness on water use.


Water-kennis is part of the ULTIMATE project

Water-kennis is a product of ULTIMATE, an EU financed project, and is one of three case studies in which an Immersive Media Experience  (IMX) is implemented. The development of the Water-kennis app is a collaborative project between NTNU and KWR. NTNU assisted with the IMX design process and built the Water-kennis app.

Andrew Perkis, Project Lead at NTNU, explains: “Immersive media is a collective term for technologies (virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality) that try to replicate a unique world using digital simulations, thus creating a feeling of total immersion in the experience.”

Further developments

During the launch on 7 March, when KWR staff members were able to test the app, the initial reactions were positive. Andrew Perkis: “I saw many people interacting, fanatically involved and laughing. This shows me that the app has the potential of offering an enjoyable learning experience which can bring about change.”

This positive feedback was confirmed during the reflection session following the launch. The app users indicated that “the app seemed to be a better way of learning about water” and that “the message got through more effectively”.

Some issues needed to be looked at, however: “The questions were not always that clear” and “the game sometimes moved ahead too quickly”. Nevertheless, the users found it fun to be interacting with a group, they appreciated the playful elements in the game, and thought that it was a fun way of moving around while also acquiring knowledge.

Over the next 8 months, KWR and NTNU will together further develop Water-kennis and look at what the app’s impact is on users.

The app can be downloaded in de App Store and Google Play Store.  

The article was originally published by KWR Water Research here.