IBM takes on water management

IBM may not seem the natural partner for a water management project but has been integral in the implementation of the 'Smartbay' project in Galway Bay in Ireland.

Water management has become a key interest for the computer company, which has set up Centres of Excellence for Advanced Water Management in the Netherlands, the USA and Ireland.

There is no shortage of data these days with interconnectivity at unprecedented levels. What is missing, according to David Lee, of IBM, speaking at IWEX 2011 today (May 24) is the management and interpretation of the data.

The Galway Bay project was begun by the Marine Institute in Ireland to collect data for research purposes.

The Institute set up the National Research Infrastructure Project in Galway Bay, which has been the subject of serious flooding in recent years.

A large network of buoys, seafloor cables and other infrastructure was constructed to carry out oceanographic monitoring.

The project began in 2008 and enabled the gathering of a large volume of data.

IBM employed smart sensors, modelling techniques, analytics and visualisation tools to enable real time continuous monitoring and turned the data into real time information.

Initially the project was for research purposes, but the Galway Bay community who had a vested interest in the sustainable water environment became important stakeholders.

In addition to providing intelligence for research, the project was able to provide businesses with useful data.

Stakeholders include aquaculture and commercial fishing businesses, alternative energy companies, restaurants, the tourism trade and harbour masters.

Each stakeholder is given customised data which covers weather information, tidal activity, flood threat and other risks.

The project pilot ran from 2009-10 and has now received funding to put permanent research in place.

Alison Brown

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