IoT Monitoring System Developed to Track Water Quality Conditions

Feb 1, 2018

We were inspired by the work Project Clarity was doing to remediate the water quality issues of Lake Macatawa and the Macatawa Watershed that flow into Lake Michigan. Through our inspiration to contribute to this cause, we saw an opportunity to leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) to help achieve this goal.

“The Macatawa Watershed has long suffered from high levels of suspended sediment and the nutrient phosphorus in its waterways” said Dan Callam of Project Clarity. “Through this project we plan to leverage the power of wireless technology to provide a clearer picture of how conditions change during our work of reducing these factors by 70 percent.”

Similar to any client we serve, we believed that the environmental challenges impacting the water quality of southwest Michigan, could be solved by leveraging strategic insights and applying intuitive design with relevant technology.

Through our stakeholder interviews we found that a key element to substantially reducing the sediment, nutrient, and bacterial pollution in Lake Macatawa, is constant tracking and monitoring of the factors that impact the water quality. This data-gathering process involved someone taking a trip to the test site and traveling out into the water to log the data from the sensors.

This is where we saw the opportunity to leverage an IoT system to automate this process in order to provide researchers and educators the real-time updates necessary to evaluate the water quality. The sensing hardware that we designed sends data wirelessly to a server and provides the local partners timely updates on the frequent changing stream conditions. For this project, we used Sigfox, an IoT wireless network, that allows for wide area coverage and lower cost and energy consumption required to connect the sensors to the cloud.

“Monitoring sediment movement and quantity is one of the most difficult tasks in watershed science” said Alan Steinman of Grand Valley State University Annis Water Resources Institute. “The new automated IOT reporting system provides a unique and powerful platform to track sediment in real-time, which aids in both the identification of critical source areas and the assessment of restoration efforts.”

The next step in this process was to create a user interface (UI) design to visualize this data. This was designed to show the impacts of how factors such as rainfall and discharge are affecting the water quality. Not only is this dashboard helpful for the team evaluating the watershed, but it is also helpful for educational purposes, where it will be used in classrooms, ranging from middle school to graduate level courses, for academic projects and discussions.

We believe that with the right vision, tools, and team nearly anything can be accomplished through strategic design and technology – and look forward to seeing what other challenges we can solve both in the environmental space and other industries.

To view the full press release: “Local Partners Developing Real-Time Watershed Monitoring System for Project Clarity” please visit this link from PRWeb.

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