Artificial Intelligence

Smart lakes in the fight against Red Tide

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Author: Isuru Fernando, Country Analytics & Artificial Intelligence Leader, IBM New Zealand

Around the world, Red Tide is negatively impacting our environment, including in Australia and New Zealand. This year on the Florida coast at least a hundred manatees, a dozen dolphins, thousands of fish and 300 turtles were all suspected to have died due to a poisonous Red Tide. Its impact was such that in August the governor was forced to call a state of emergency.

Red tide is a phenomenon caused by algae blooms. When the blooms become too numerous, they discolour coastal waters. They can deplete the water of oxygen and release toxins that are harmful to wildlife and humans.

The Jefferson Project

It’s crunch time for research, and IBM is helping to lead the charge, finding answers in New York’s Lake George, which is acting as a control lake. Called the Jefferson Project, it’s a partnership between IBM Research, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and The FUND for Lake George. The project is turning the lake into a living laboratory. Using AI and IoT-connected sensors to power a new advance in environmental monitoring. Researchers are using the technology to model how bodies of water react to higher concentrations of humans, chemical runoff, and other disruptors. They’re collecting around nine terabytes of data per year, and the insights derived from this treasure trove of data may help unlock the power to literally stem red tides.

By the numbers

Between the sensors and models, researchers are collecting enough data to fill up 5,250 16GB mobile phones – that’s 14 mobile phones daily.

  • 51 sensor platforms
  • 500+ sensors
  • 9 terabytes of data/year from sensors
  • 300+ million measurements to date
  • 73+ terabytes of data/year generated by computer models

IBM scientists are also working on integrated IoT solutions to support a myriad of sensors to help better understand and ultimately manage a multitude of ecosystem challenges, both in New York and in partnership with Dublin City University Water Institute. These may include water quality changes due to natural, artificial, or climate-related effects. Sensors can measure physical, chemical, and biological parameters to help better understand changes in the environment. Applications may include improved management of pollution from sources such as agricultural or storm water runoff that can affect lakes, rivers, estuaries and marine ecosystems.

The Jefferson and Dublin projects are just two of the many IBM efforts to help preserve the environment for current and future generations.

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