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STREAMED – A community-based online water clarity monitoring tool

Suspended sediment is a major pollutant of our waterways, affecting health and recreational values.  Some community groups already monitor water clarity (a measure of suspended sediment) of their local stream, but this information is often held in hard-copy or off-line forms, remaining inaccessible to the wider group or public.

STREAMED is designed to fill this gap, providing an online digital presence that will allow real-time logging, viewing and interpretation of water clarity data, giving communities/schools a deeper understanding of the sediment issues facing their waterways and allowing for immediate responses to discharge events by local authorities, thus helping effect improved management of our waterways.

STREAMED will have a data-logging interface via mobile devices and computers where users will enter monitoring data and automatic alerts sent to local pollution hotlines when monitoring trigger levels are exceeded. Data will be stored in a centralised database accessed via a website interface that will automatically interpret and present data via interpretive graphics/maps showing temporal/spatial changes and summary statistics. Data will be searchable and downloadable, allowing universal access to the online data. Online resources and training programme framework for community/school groups will be developed, along with internal quality control checks on data entered into STREAMED, meaning that there is greater confidence in the robustness of the data collected by community groups under STREAMED. 

What conservation problem are you trying to solve?

With rising public concern in New Zealand about poor water quality, communities want to be more involved in the monitoring and management of their waterways. Communities wanting to achieve local environmental outcomes have limited ability to actively participate and contribute to conservation in a meaningful way. There are very few effective water quality monitoring tools that enable communities to share their monitoring information in a ‘real time’ online digital format.

Communities that are more aware and engaged in their local environment are better placed to make educated decisions about their management. Water clarity monitoring by communities would benefit immensely from STREAMED to provide the platform for learning and knowledge gathering that empowers communities to take action and instils confidence in authorities to use community-based data.  

 

How are you going to solve this conservation problem?

STREAMED will enable community groups/schools/organisations to collect robust data, effectively communicate information about the health of their waterways and help facilitate a platform for encouraging conversations about our environment – by having this data available and viewable online by anyone with access to the internet. Through the provision of online ‘real time’ data, it will allow for immediate responses to discharge events by local authorities, thus helping effect improved management of our waterways.

STREAMED will provide an interface for New Zealander’s to become positively involved in the management of our waterways, by using community participation to collect and share their own data online in a meaningful way. Viewable and downloadable by anyone with an internet connection, STREAMED will give community monitoring groups a better voice and acknowledgement of their ongoing volunteer commitment.

 

What makes your idea new and unique?

STREAMED will enable community groups to effectively communicate information about the water quality of their waterways and help facilitate a platform for encouraging conversations about our environment. 


With STREAMED providing all-accessible, real-time data via the Internet, schools will be given a unique learning resource where they can draw from real-world examples and from data that they have themselves helped to collect.


Providing an online data recording system and real-time viewing platform will allow more immediate responses to discharge events by local authorities. STREAMED can also be used to highlight tributaries contributing the worst water quality to a stream. The ability to provide this type of information will assist restoration efforts through maximising investment or land management initiatives to the areas where it is needed the most.

Who will use your idea, and how will they benefit?

STREAMED will enable community groups to effectively communicate information about the water quality of their waterways and help facilitate a platform for encouraging conversations about our environment. 


With STREAMED providing all-accessible, real-time data via the Internet, schools will be given a unique learning resource where they can draw from real-world examples and from data that they have themselves helped to collect.


Providing an online data recording system and real-time viewing platform will allow more immediate responses to discharge events by local authorities. STREAMED can also be used to highlight tributaries contributing the worst water quality to a stream. The ability to provide this type of information will assist restoration efforts through maximising investment or land management initiatives to the areas where it is needed the most.

What tasks or activities do you need investment for? How would you spend a $25,000 grant?

STREAMED has three phases; each phase informing the next phase. A $25,000 grant will assist to develop Phase 1 of the programme, which involves the development of an online presence and architecture of a database. An existing six-year dataset will be used as a test case. This will achieve immediate community needs of displaying existing monitoring data online, open access to share/download datasets. 


Phase 2 and 3 will develop the online app and further refinement of the website and database QC process, the training and certification module, and finalising the fully integrated system that will allow any new groups to set up and add water clarity data for their catchment.

Are you a New Zealand citizen or resident?

YES

I have read and agree to the Crowdicity Terms of Use, the Conservation Innovation Awards 2017 Supplemental Terms and Conditions, and the Crowdicity Privacy Policy

YES

List five other ideas posted in the challenge that excite you. Why?

We found the following five other ideas posted in the challenge to be exciting:

Tend your planet - war on weeds

Fluke & Flipper - enhancing the Hector's Dolphin sightings app

The Kotahi Project

Restoration drone for polluted waterways

Swimming with E. coli

We found these exciting because some of them were, like us, looking to use App technology to get more people involved in environmental monitoring, helping to bridge the gap between science and the wider public, and in imporving our understanding of environmental matters, often in a fun and engaging way. Other projects we liked as they, like STREAMED, are looking at ways that we can improve the water quality of our waterbodies through involvement of the wider community.

How could you improve your idea?

Our idea has been developed and refined over the last two years, working in conjunction with local community groups and regional authorities, so we are currently very happy with where the programme design is at. However, there have been some really useful comments and feedback from voters, and some other projects in the CIA that has some potential syndergies with STREAMED, and we will make contact with them to further refine STREAMED and establish useful networks.

edited on Oct 15, 2017 by Kirsty Brennan

Michael Fielding Oct 13, 2017

This is a great citizen science idea.
My first thought is that I'd like to hear more about how you plan to measure the water clarity, with what equipment, and how to ensure consistent, scientific-quality results.
Secondly, I wonder whether GIS In Conservation would be able to build this - capturing geo data like this is bread and butter for the tools they use. Then the $25,000 could be used for more different things?

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Shelley McMurtrie Oct 14, 2017

Thanks for your question and comment - and really great that you love the idea! Water clarity will be measured using a water clarity tube (shown in the picture above), as this is a proven citizen science tool that shows good consistency of readings between users (a water clarity reading of the same sample is taken three times, and the average used for the final reading). Users will go through a certification process that ensures they have been adequately trained beforehand. Further quality control measures will be used when entering the data - for example an alert will show if the three readings of the same sample are not within a certain percentage of each other. Thanks for the suggestion regarding GIS in Conservation - we will look into this further!

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Steven MacLeod Oct 14, 2017

Hello STREAMED, We've already made a freshwater online monitoring tool. What you need in phase 1 and 2 is already live and up and running, you can start using it tomorrow and its free. I've attached a few screenshots. If there is anything you dont understand or want to do things differently then that is totally fine.

Email me at Steven@AgileCloud.com

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Kirsty Brennan Oct 15, 2017

Hi Steven, thanks for your comment and for the screenshots of your app that you are currently running - it looks great! We would be very keen to touch base and talk to you about your process and what you are finding does and doesnt work. STREAMED however is a system that concentrates just on water quality, and specifically water clarity - we are aware of a number of websites and community programmes out there that concentrate on a raft of habitat and biotic measures, but through our research it became clear for the need to just concentrate on key water quality measures for monitoring suspended sediment in streams. The investment in the app we are looking to develop includes a raft of feedback measures for checking data quality and providing automatic interpretation and graphing of results, and sending alerts to Pollution Hotline and similar, as well as the development of resources for the training and certification programme, and the development of a website where groups can set up their monitoring programme and share with others. Let me know if you have a website as well and I will take a look at that too. I will be emailing you direct shortly to carry on the conversation!

Reply

Steven MacLeod Oct 15, 2017

Hi Kirsty, thanks for your reply. Agile Cloud is an conservation engagement portal. It will do whatever is asked of it and then integrate that with any other relevant data. look forward to your email. Steven

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Kirsty Brennan Oct 15, 2017

wonderful, our project leader Shelley has just sent you an email!

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View all replies (3)

Dan Ducker Oct 15, 2017

Hey Kirsty! Great stuff, I really encourage you to contact the WaiCare team at Auckland Council. They have heaps of cool resources (although I know your local ecosystems will be different!). They've done a bit of exploration into similar tools too. Good luck!

Reply

Kirsty Brennan Oct 15, 2017

Hi Dan, thanks so much for your comment and it is great to hear that you know about WaiCare! As you probably know (but for the sake of others out there who may not), WaiCare provides support to community groups and a data repository for community water quality data, along with a range of other monitoring (invertebrates, etc). However, the programme is specific to the Auckland region, there is no automatic interpretation of the water quality results or any ability to compare sites etc, and data connot be entered via remote/portable app devices or send alerts to regulartory authorities (i.e., Pollution Hotline). At the time of this application the part of the site that displays water quality data was also not running. We have links to key Auckland Council staff involved in Wai Care, who are also very supportive of the STREAMED programme. If funding for STREAMED is successful we will be continuing these conversations. It will be a useful tool to determine what has and hasn’t worked for them in the development of their site, and we will look for ways to connect with this organisation to share experiences. Thanks again!

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Becky Wilson Oct 15, 2017

The idea has been progressed to the next milestone

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Kirsty Brennan Oct 15, 2017

Wonderful news, thanks so much!

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