IBM dives into managing Ireland’s beaches and lakes

2 Nov 2009

IT giant IBM has joined forces with Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enable smarter water management across more than 130 of Ireland’s beaches and lakes.

Working together with An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, the organisations are collecting and analysing large amounts of complex environmental data from Ireland’s coastline and lakes on water quality, tides, weather forecasts and more.

That information is then made easily available to the general public at an online portal, Splash. Currently live in Ireland with plans for global expansion, Splash has already benefited thousands of visitors from nearly 40 countries.

Managing water quality

“Our collaboration with IBM and An Taisce is paving the way for smarter water quality management at our beaches and lakes,” said Dr Mary Kelly, EPA director general.

“It is a good example of how smart green technologies can be deployed to provide easily accessible and useful information to the public. The Splash portal is just the beginning of what we hope to accomplish.”

The system also enables more efficient reporting by local government authorities and state agencies. Prior to the Splash portal, public reports such as water samples and compliancy with standards were not available until the year after they were collected and created.

Making a Splash

With Splash, this information is available immediately, in map-based format, and adhering to the requirements of the European 2006 Bathing Water Directive. Ireland is the first of the 27 EU member states to implement this online smarter solution for beach water-quality reporting.

“Though the total amount of water on the planet has never changed, the nature of the water has,” said Sharon Nunes, vice-president, Big Green Innovations, IBM.

“Everything from where rain falls to the chemical makeup of the oceans is in flux, and it continues to change in real time. By providing near real-time access to water conditions, we’re enabling environmental agencies and citizens alike to make smarter decisions about everything from how to handle changes in water quality to where to plan their next vacation,” said Nunes.

By John Kennedy

Photo: IBM and An Taisce are working toward smarter water quality management at Ireland’s lakes and beaches.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years