You can’t exactly deny that we, as a species, have come up with some pretty inane uses for technology; the mere fact that we devoted precious resources to mass produce things like the animatronic Big Mouth Billy Bass can understandably cause a few among us to wonder why those bearing a proclivity for technology aren’t out changing the world.

Thankfully, there are those who are putting their skills to good use; devising methods and building tools to help policy makers around the globe understand their country’s water development needs. While this information has practical applications in every corner of the globe, it is particularly insightful in regions that are often hit hard with drought.

Thanks to a combined effort by the Global Water Policy Project, the University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment, and the University of Kassel’s Center for Environmental Systems Research, the scientific community now has the means to observe global water scarcity in much greater detail than ever before.

Using synthesized statistical and historical data, experts can view a global map that demonstrates water scarcity at a much smaller scale, providing more accurate information. Until now, those studying water availability could only examine large watersheds, which tended to average the water usage across an entire area. Obviously this is useful information, but when it comes to developing a forward looking strategy that requires experts to identify the areas that are hardest hit by drought, averaging the results simply doesn’t cut it.

By examining the newly developed map, researchers can pinpoint locations that are consuming more water than is being renewed each year, allowing legislators to determine which areas require the most immediate help; diverting resources that could allow for the construction of a new reservoir, updates to the existing infrastructure, or the implementation of support systems like water main monitoring that can alert authorities of an impending rupture.

So What Does This Mean For You, the Homeowner?

It’s not terribly difficult to understand the implications this map can have on homeowners, particularly when it comes to moving – domestically or abroad. Simply put, the information gathered allows people that are considering moving to a particular area to know whether or not the region has historically suffered from prolonged water shortages.

While this information alone may not dissuade someone from relocating to a given area, it does allow him or her to make an informed decision.

Economic Implications

From an economic perspective, a secure water supply is paramount for ensuring economic prosperity and wooing of foreign investment. Being able to identify regions that require assistance in mitigating water scarcity allows governments to take preventative measures to ensure the region’s water supply is stable. Having to divert water away from farming activities and the manufacturing sector in times of scarcity can lead to failed crops and lack of production, respectively.

Ecological Implications

In regions that are prone to severe dry spells or seasons, it’s reasonable to assume that there is a commensurate amount of stress being put on the area’s wildlife – to the point where the very existence of a species may be in jeopardy (in extreme circumstances).

Having a tool that provides a pinpoint view of an area’s water supply can have an invaluable impact on a government’s ability to act proactively to prevent life-threatening water scarcity.

Ecosystems are so fragile that if even one element is removed, the entire system can collapse – and that could have larger implications than the extinction of a species. A collapsed ecosystem can disrupt an area’s food chain to the point where the only option for the local populace is relocation.