Can a Water Smart Grid Help Society Achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of Water as a Human Right?

Journal Article

In the spirit of measuring what we care about, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide guidelines to measure ``universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.'' In this work, I show where permanent or semi-permanent, autonomous or semi-autonomous technologies (objects, not processes) can measure and induce progress toward those goals and where they cannot. To do this, I apply the Institutional Analysis and Development Framework to each of the seven normative definitions from the SDGs as ``action arenas.'' For each normative definition, I examine if technologies exist or can be created to effect a positive outcome for consumers in that particular action arena using nine evaluative criteria. This analysis is applied to the United States as a case study considering its physical systems, regulations, and governance structures. This work, combined with efforts to translate the United States' systems and structures, can lead to multinational applicability. This paper examines how and when a water smart grid can and cannot be used effectively. I conclude that the material artifacts of a water smart grid can advance the SDG of safety and affordability. However, technology alone cannot assign people to jurisdictions, limiting its ability to advance goals of universal and equitable access.

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Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Jones, A-A

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Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.31224/osf.io/wxqg7