Wireless River Monitoring



The Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, a non-profit scientific research organization based in Beacon, NY, has teamed up with IBM and several other research groups to develop a high-tech environmental-monitoring system for the state’s Hudson River that would transform its 315 miles into an interconnected network of sensors.

The river’s biology and chemistry are transmitted to a central location for further analysis by IBM’s new system — which takes the information and creates a virtual model of the river to simulate its ecosystem in real time.

Some of the network’s sensors will be mounted on a solar-powered robotic underwater vehicle (pdf), built by RPI and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) while others will be fixed in place along the river bed or suspended from buoys. The IBM system will use the gathered data to monitor the river’s temperature, pressure, salinity, dissolved oxygen content and pH levels — which will help indicate whether pollutants have entered the Hudson River — and its sea life.

“In terms of having an integrated network of sensors, and given the magnitude of it for the Hudson River, this project is without a doubt a huge advancement and on a much larger scale than anything that has been done before,” said Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer, director of the Darrin Fresh Water Institute at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).

The project is currently in the “design phase” — which John Cronin, CEO of the Beacon Institute, expects will be complete within the next two years.

Though they haven’t yet nailed down how many sensors they plan on deploying, officials from IBM and the Beacon Institute estimate that the number will run in the hundreds, with more to be developed along the way. Since the Hudson River flows into the Atlantic Ocean, the network may eventually even be connected to various oceanic observatory networks. Once it is up and running, Cronin hopes to bring the concept to rivers in developing countries around the world.

In related news, General Robotics Limited (GRL) is launching DeepView 2.0, its subsea visualisation software, and DeepLive a real-time data capture module. DeepView 2.0 is an advanced visualisation and animation tool for creating subsea scenarios that allow multiple concurrent views of an operation with full data recording and replay in 3D. DeepLive accepts GPS and USBL data inputs to show the position in a 3D visualisation, of subsea objects like a vessel and its ROV, allowing real-time tracking.

Thetus, which develops knowledge discovery software solutions like their Thetus Publisher, can manage and discover information in large volumes of data collected by sensors and other instruments. The Columbia River CORIE Project uses Thetus software to filter real-time sensor data.

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Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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