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First Water Generating Billboard in the World

By: Gisella Silva

Is UTEC’s potable water generating billboard the solution to Lima’s lack of access to clean water?

First Water Generating Billboard in the World

(Photo: El Comercio)

How do you create an advertisement that gets students interested in applying for an engineering program AND tackles the issue of scarce drinking water in Lima’s coastal desert?

That’s quite the task.

UTEC, the University of Engineering and Technology in Peru, found a way. Together with Media Connection BPN and Mayo Draft FCB, they created the first billboard in the world that generates potable drinking water from air.

As stated by Time Tech, Lima is the second largest coastal desert city in the world, receiving a maximum of two inches of rainfall a year. Ironically, Lima also has an atmospheric humidity of 98%, which assured the campaign’s success.

As mentioned in UTEC’s promotional video of the billboard, for locals like Francisco Quilca from the Bujama district, having access to clean drinking water just footsteps away from his home means not having to draw polluted water from the well. It also means not having to depend on private water trucks, which according to Time Tech charge locals 20 times more than what the average Limeño pays for a cubic meter of filtered water.

According to Time Tech, given UTEC’s reputation for innovation, it should be no surprise that with just three months into the project, the billboard had already generated a 38% increase in applications for UTEC’s 2013 engineering program and produced 9,450 liters (2500 gallons) of drinkable water.

As Alejandro Aponte, creative director of the Mayo Draft FCB, stated: “the billboard has already produced thousands of liters of drinking water monthly, benefiting hundreds of families, neighboring zones, and passers-by in the area, turning the campaign into a technology solution with a social impact.”

What if billboards like UTEC’s filled Lima’s streets?

Let’s think even bigger. What if they filled streets all around the world? UNICEF confirmed that the need for such a project exists when they affirmed that 768 million people in the world do not have access to potable drinking water. Now it’s just a matter of putting an already developed prototype into action.

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