Friday, July 6, 2007

Water sensors: adaptation tool

From a company press release: Sensicore, a developer of smart sensor systems for measuring and monitoring water quality, announced today that WaterNOW ™, its web-based water quality data visualization tool, is being used in a pilot project to develop an early warning system for public health emergencies. The project – sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Homeland Security Research Center – is being conducted in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh’s Real-Time Outbreak and Disease Surveillance (RODS) Laboratory, which developed surveillance systems for monitoring public health trends, and the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA).

“We are honored to showcase technology that makes real-time water quality monitoring a reality,” said Malcolm Kahn, CEO of Sensicore. “Too often water quality data from various sources is not compared to identify trends. With WaterNOW, public health officials have the technology to help connect the dots to spot an emergency much more quickly than before.”

The project is based on the theory that contamination of the public water supply may create an increase in reports of illness. The EPA and RODS is seeking to determine if water quality measurements could be correlated with public health measurements, such as increases in emergency room traffic or sales of certain over-the-counter medications. By developing this type of early warning system, public health officials would be able to better and more quickly respond to emergency situations.

Central to this effort is Sensicore’s WaterNOW system, which provides a centralized repository of water quality data gathered from a variety of sources. Among its many applications, WaterNOW consolidates data from all of a city’s monitoring locations onto a secure Internet site and displays the information on a map overlay of the geographical area, enabling authorities to correlate and visualize near-real-time measurements of water quality parameters at multiple sites. If contamination is detected, analysts can compare the different levels at multiple sites and the different rates of increase over time. This helps them pinpoint the source and extent of the problem, and initiate action necessary to protect water customers.

The PWSA has been using WaterNOW since February 2006 to aggregate and compile water quality data from its various monitoring sources, including manually collected, Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) and Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, Sensicore’s WaterPOINT 870 “lab-on-chip” field monitoring devices and a remote online monitoring system. The PWSA’s monitoring system automatically delivers water quality readings to WaterNOW, demonstrating how near-real-time water quality data could be available via the Internet and viewable to public health authorities around the clock.

For the EPA’s project, the data collected by WaterNOW is being compared to public health data collected by RODS to see if correlations could be made between water quality issues and evidence of certain illnesses.

No comments: