Five Good Ideas For Providing Clean Water in Developing Countries

A billion people drink highly polluted water. Here are five good ideas for providing cleaner water to more people in developing countries.

1) Solar Water Disinfection

Treating water by putting it in 2 liter cola bottles and setting it in the sun on a black surface for 5 hours kills 99% of pathogens. One of the world’s truly great ideas (and currently highest ranked idea overall on Good Ideas). See

2) Water “Tarpaulin” Combines Transport, Purification

The Solar Water Disinfecting Tarpaulin (SWDT) combines easy transport of water with solar purification. A Metropolis Magazine winning idea 2008.

3) Filter Water With Rice Husks

Tata Consultancy Services in India has invented a cheap, effective water filter employing rice husks. Economist Magazine.

4) Burn Cow Manure to Purify Water

Dean Kamen’s latest quest: a box which burns cow manure to purify water. Forbes

5) Water Testing with Reporting via SMS

A South Africa water quality testing system, “Aquatest”, decentralizes water testing by distributing tools for testing and gathering data by SMS.

To comment or vote on these (or other) ideas – or add your own! – visit Good Ideas.

The Genesis of a “Good Idea”

Archimedes has his “eureka!” moment

Popular culture portrays the good idea as a “eureka moment”: a brilliant insight that is excitedly shared with others who immediately see its value.

In the real world good ideas don’t actually work that way. I’ve spent much of the last year looking at ideas sites, contest sites, answers sites, “best of” compilations, and reading about innovation. Truly good ideas – those that pass the test of time and serve a useful purpose – are never widely recognized as a good idea at first. There are three reasons for this:

* First, most new ideas in fact aren’t good ideas. It is therefore easy to assume that no new idea is a good idea.

* Second, most people by nature don’t really seem to like new ideas. They like things they already understand. The typical reaction to something new is to be critical, no matter the idea.

* Third, and most important, a good idea addresses a difficult problem in a new way. If the idea were both obvious and effective, the problem probably wouldn’t exist in the first place.

Good ideas at first are always outcasts. They may be clung to only by a stubborn zealot with few supporters. With persistence the idea slowly wins converts. Eventually enough people agree with the idea that it become accepted (although never universally).

The Good Ideas site is a repository for ideas that have passed the test of time. It also, however, can serve as an idea incubator which, through crowdsourcing, can speed the process from new idea to good idea.

Five Good Ideas for Improving Our Democracy

American democracy has evolved over 230 years. It has room for improvement. Here are five ideas for improving American democracy from Good Ideas:

1) Bypass Electoral College

A new proposal seeks to bypass the Electoral College and elect the President via popular vote. Without amending the constitution, it calls on states to commit all electoral votes to the candidate winning the popular vote. Information at .

2) Change Senate Filibuster Rules

Requiring 60 votes to do anything is a recipe for partisanship and paralysis.

3) Establish Redistricting Commissions

A politically neutral redistrcting commission, such as California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission, will make Congressional races more balanced and Congress more centrist. Thomas Friedman NY Times

4) In Elections, Adopt “Alternative Voting”

“Alternative Voting”, such as employed in Australia, allows voters to designate their first and second choices. If the first choice loses, your second choice gets the vote. This favors third party candidates and competition. Thomas Friedman NY Times

5) Give Your Vote to Third World

A new website called Give Your Vote allows British citizens to seek input for their votes on issues which impact developing countries.

What do you think? Vote or comment on these ideas – or add your own – on Good Ideas.