IBM's new Creek Watch application for the Apple iPhone is designed to draw upon the millions of iPhone users to collect data on the country's rivers, streams and creeks.
IBM is offering an iPhone app designed to enable people to
help keep an eye on the waterways around them.
IBM Nov. 4 announced the Creek Watch iPhone app, which lets
users quickly and easily gather data on the various rivers and streams they
pass. They then would be able to take that data-including a photo-and send it
to local or state water authorities, who will be able to gather and analyze the
information and get a better view of what's happening in their environments.
The goal is to draw upon the millions of iPhone users to
collect data that overworked and understaffed water boards can't.
"Creek Watch lets the average citizen contribute to the
health of their water supply - without PhDs, chemistry kits and a lot of time,"
Christine Robson, with IBM Research, said in a statement. "Harnessing the
crowd-sourced data movement for a cause people care about is a win-win-win for
citizens, local water boards and IBM's desire to solve big data challenges."
IBM officials have been pushing their Smarter Planet
initiative, which calls for greater intelligence in business and municipal
systems and infrastructures and the ability to quickly and accurately analyze
and act on the data that is collected in a central database. The free Creek
Watch iPhone app, available now in Apple's App Store, fits with this vision:
Use the rapidly growing number of iPhone users who are out and about to gather
data on water sources, and then enable local water boards, state water
authorities and similar groups to gather and analyze the information.
For iPhone users, the
work involved with the Creek Watch app is simple. They use the iPhone's
built-in camera to take a photo of a waterway, and then answer questions about
the water level (dry, some or full), flow rate (still, slow or fast) and trash
level (none, some, or a lot).
The information can then be uploaded automatically to a
central database, allowing water authorities to get a better idea of what is
happening in their waterways. The hope is all the walkers, joggers, drivers and
bikers who routinely drive over or by local waterways will now stop and collect
information that can be used to protect the rivers and streams from pollution
California's State Water Control Board is the first agency
to partner with IBM. The state agency will use the data collected by iPhone
users to monitor the creeks and streams throughout California, according to
"With about 800 miles of creeks in Santa Clara County
alone, we need innovative technologies like this one to empower the community
to help us continuously improve our water quality and the environment,"
Carol Boland, watershed biologist for the City of San Jose, Calif., said in a
statement. "An amazing characteristic of IBM's Creek Watch app is that it's
accessible to anyone that has an iPhone and doesn't require a huge commitment
to do something that will really benefit the creeks."