EDGE postulates that the measurement of endo- and exogenous environment & human derived residues continuously and anonymously pooled by the receiving environment (sewage, rivers, soils and air), can provide near real-time dynamic information about the quantity and type of physical, biological or chemical stressor to which the surveyed system is exposed, and can profile the effects of this exposure. It can therefore provide anonymised, comprehensive and objective information on the health status of urban dwellers and surrounding environments in real time, as urban water continuously pools anonymous urine, wastewater and runoff samples from thousands of urban dwellings.
Mitigation strategies that can build resilience require responsive systems of risk governance that attend to the problem framings and day to day concerns of stakeholders and citizens. To achieve this, EDGE will focus on establishing the appropriate network for designing a prototype EWS in two geographically and socioeconomically contrasting areas in Africa: Lagos (Nigeria), Cape Town (South Africa). These areas are subject to different stressors and resulting multi-hazard risks, but have core common denominators: resource stress driven by uncontrolled population growth, low resource availability & unpredictable weather conditions. Lagos is experiencing rapid growth (35 million people by 2050) that will bring sustainability challenges, e.g. spread of infectious disease triggered by frequent flooding. In contrast, Cape Town is experiencing water scarcity driven by climate change and migration. The close proximity of various communities of different socio-economic status, accessing different levels of infrastructure and exposed to different stressors, presents an opportunity to investigate the socio-technical challenges of developing & implementing an EWS in such contexts. The young and growing population of Africa that is rapidly up-taking digital innovation provides a unique opportunity for building a system underpinned by digital channels to provide long and lasting impacts.