­toilet-with-phone-and-bird.JPGNew York, February 22­, 2010 - We submitted a somewhat indelicate proposal to the Minds in the Gutter competition on February 15, 2010. The competition was predicated on the following statement:

“Every time it rains in New York City, our combined sewer system gobbles up stormwater running off all hard surfaces - roadways, sidewalks, rooftops and parking lots - into the same network of pipes that carry our sewage. This system quickly reaches capacity, and the stormwater and sewage overflow into local waterways on the order of 27 billion gallons per year. This limits how New Yorkers can safely access the waterfront, and impairs our estuary ecosystem.”

While the competition was looking for solutions to the sewerage overflow problem from the field of civil engineering (e.g., enabling rain water to seep into the gutter and become groundwater), we saw an opportunity to point out how computer engineering could address the problem. Our solution combined a careful Internet of Things development of the toilets.nyc domain name with civic crowdsourcing. With our test project focused on cleaning Flushing Bay, we entitled our proposal The Flushing Community, see it here.

Being non-compliant with a strict reading of the guidelines, we’re hoping for an “outsider” or “best effort” award from S.W.I.M. judges. (Commons images courtesy of Patti Lowenhaupt and S.W.I.M.)

Learn more about our overall effort from our Wiki Home Page.

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