A wicked problem is...

A social or cultural problem that is difficult or impossible to solve for as many as four reasons: incomplete or contradictory knowledge, the number of people and opinions involved, the large economic burden, and the interconnected nature of these problems with other problems. Poverty - Climate Change - Water Quality - Healthcare and Education are wicked problems. These problems are typically offloaded to policy makers, or are written off as being too cumbersome to handle en masse. Yet these are the problems plaguing our cities and our world and that touch each and every one of us.

Over the course of 10 days this past October, 10 Prospective CEOs, successful entrepreneurs from across the United States, came together to confront 10 wicked problems facing cities.

The program is called 10.10.10.

10 CEOs  ·  10 Wicked Problems  ·  10 Days

The goal? To each create a new venture based on a new product or service that can change the world. These ventures are for-profit initiatives that attack one or more of the 10 wicked problems that were identified during the program in a way that only entrepreneurs can do, as opposed to how current bureaucracies are failing to do.  

After ten days, Ari Kaufman introduced The Waterlyzer, the first in-home device that attaches to a smart phone for analyzing and identifying contaminants in drinking water.

Lack of actionable information about our drinking water is a wicked problem. Knowledge of the quality of the drinking water in the home is a critical place to start
— Ari Kaufman, CEO, Microlyze

Wicked Water Problems

Lack of Access to Water Data and Actionable Information

Negative impacts of prolonged and periodic droughts, water use inefficiency and growing populations continue to threaten many municipal water supplies (especially in arid western cities), putting their future growth and prosperity in jeopardy. Consumers (e.g., homeowners, commercial users and agricultural users), many of whom are aware of the problem, do not have the information necessary to be part of the solution.

How can we provide real time access to water quantity and quality data to better inform business, public policy and consumer/customer decisions (from retail to consumer level)?

Water Management Systems Lack Flexibility and Transparency

Water supply, water rights and water law determine how we manage and allocate water. Our current systems are slow and lack complete transparency. Can we create a frictionless system encouraging and facilitating water rights trading? How can we ensure long-term sufficient water supply to meet agriculture, municipal and environmental needs when in many instances water is a property right?


Water Contamination and Declining Quality

A safe and reliable supply of water is a critical public health issue. Assuring water quality will require multi-faceted approaches, including appropriate infrastructure, treatment and water source protection. Aging water and wastewater infrastructure pose an environmental and public health threat. Moreover, the release of contaminants into our water supply can cause injury that is extremely costly to remedy. Source water protection can alleviate the need for costly treatment and ensure environmental stewardship. How can a community reduce and eliminate surface and groundwater pollution in a cost effective manner with reduced environmental and social impacts?

Water quality is declining, globally; how might we improve water quality from non-point sources (agriculture) and point sources (specific discharges); how do we best manage storm water?

Science keeps improving, and we know more and more about the quality of our water, yet we lack the systems to address new and growing concerns. How can water providers keep up?