Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent


Keel Beach, Achill Island, Ireland. Courtesy Giuseppe Peronato.

One of the challenges dedicated surfers face here in the Northeastern part of the U.S. is that great swells are rarely accompanied by good weather. Prime surf season begins once the storms begin to pick up in September and extends through the winter. And while storms bring great swells, they also bring higher ocean pollutants as storm runoff carries bacteria from streets, drains and even sewers down to the beaches. If you want to surf good waves here, it’s something you have to deal with. I even have one particular friend whose ear infections became so frequent his doctor gave him a standing antibiotics prescription. The problem is, one never really knows which beach is safe at any given time.

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you probably know where this is going. What if we could instrument our beaches with sensors to measure environmental conditions, then use the Internet to connect the sensors and feed that information to consumers in real time. We could be much more informed and better evaluate the risks we are willing to take. Good idea, right?

The government of Ireland thinks so.

As one of the first governments to comply with the European Union’s recently enacted Bathing Water Directive, Ireland’s Environmental Protective Agency has been working with us at IBM to collect and analyze large amounts of complex environmental data from more than 130 of Irelands beaches and lakes. This information is available for the general public at the online portal called, Splash.

EPA bathingwater 1

While on a much broader scale, the work is similar to the IBM-Galway Bay water management project where we have been attaching solar-powered sensors on buoys in the bay to collect massive amounts of data to help evaluate weather and environmental conditions to aid the local fishing industry. In this case, Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency, IBM and An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland the National Trust for Ireland is collecting data across beaches and lakes with the primary purpose to give citizens accurate, timely information on water quality.

From today’s press release:

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. 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.

One hopes this kind of system is adopted not just by the 26 other EU member states, but by governments around the world. Accurate and current information on water quality will create greater expectations from consumers, which in turn motivates governments to act for greater quality. A benevolent cycle. And the world’s surfers will appreciate it.

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November 10, 2010
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Then looking to that amazing picture i want so bad to be there. Ireland is really great and very green and fantastic country. I dont surf, but i would go there just for the view.

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Posted by: paskolos
August 27, 2010
6:34 am

Members of the public that actually involved themselves in activities and sports utilizing the surf, sea and ocean see first hand the changes that time, pollution and industry have caused.

As an Australian who not only Surfs, Dives and swims but a Petroleum Engineer working offshore I think there needs to be more extensive monitoring and data collection as mentioned above ALL over the world..

Great read,

Posted by: Surfing Dave
August 11, 2010
9:57 pm

I wish we had a better system here in San Diego. I surf primarily close to the border of Mexico in an area called Imperial Beach where the sewage spills and run off can get bad. We typically only find out about the spills days after they happen. Makes for a sick week at work.

Posted by: Josh Grillo
February 16, 2010
12:07 pm

I like this place! I love the idea and wish there was a place like this in Astoria, Queens. I am a surfer and found a “real surfer bar” in Point Break NYC. I am kinda jealous ;0PIts filled with surfers, people who like surfers, people who like the beach and people who don’t want to live close to town. I really like this place. You know what they have these real Proctor and Channel One surfboards on the wall. It’s nice for coming any day of the week and eating a late brunch. The food was outstanding. The brunch and sides were prefect and tasty. It is a perfect “escape” from city living. It is probably one of the only places where you can get a nice frozen pina colada or margarita. The service was on hit. They came up and checked on us so many times and made sure everything was up to par. It gets very active and the bartenders keep everybody having a good time. The bartender was very accommodating. He was nice enough to make a drink, that wasn’t on the menu, for me :0) Did I mention the bartenders are nice eye candy. It was amazing to see their “das boot” which is shaped like a boot filled with beer. Don’t get me wrong, I am not drunk…it’s an actual boot shaped beer container ready to be emptied. Try it ..You will love it!! Oh. How can I forget, they even have a wheel o’ shots where you just have to spin it and have to drink whatever shot it lands on!! Now call that bar creativity at its best!!! And when I spill a tray full of shots on myself, the bartender so kindly remakes them for me? Good music, too, and the decor helped us weather an otherwise overcast and rainy day. You know that old song “Brandy”? It goes, “Brandy, you’re a fine girl, what a good wife you would be. But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea.” I believe Brandy works here. No reason, I just do. And that song happens to be a guilty pleasure of mine, so that’s a plus in my book. You can simply waltz over to this colorful and warm establishment, enjoy some drinks with friends, and walk home. The bar is right at the center, so you can walk to either side for drinks, and the bartenders are friendly and at your service. There is a variety of seating, good music, and friendly neighborhood people to make your time more enjoyable. Not pretentious, very cozy, I think Point Break is a fabulous place to spend some time with friends.

Posted by: Davis Miller
November 7, 2009
3:03 pm

IBM’s credibility in advanced environmental IT domains would be greatly enhanced if IBM’s CEO could use his political clout to convince Obama to go to the climate summit in Copenhagen. Please speak up for a strong climate deal. We need the best brains in the world to avoid a climate disaster.

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November 7, 2009
11:10 am

Hi! I have an IBM computer but since IBM only got 43 out of 100 in climate score, I plan to buy a second hand computer next.

Posted by: Bornita Quader
November 7, 2009
7:01 am

Hello Adam,

It is excellent that IBM puts its technological knowledge to the service of the environment through projects like the one described here. But there is another even simpler way that IBM can help the environment.

Please ask Mr Samual Palmisano to assert the environmental stance of IBM and help get a strong international climate deal in Copenhagen, by simply rebuking the US Chamber of Commerce for its opposition to climate change. Many people are counting on you as a last chance for help.

Yours sincerely, Ms Howard (British citizen working for the Tourist Board in Southern France).

Posted by: Lucy Howard
November 6, 2009
2:55 am

While I applaud IBM for being on top of Greenpeace’s leaderbaord, I politely urge your company to speak up for a strong deal in Copenhagen regarding climate change. Please use your clout with governments for international climate action.

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November 5, 2009
10:53 am


Posted by: diego fernandez
November 4, 2009
1:36 pm

Hi Sam P.-

We’d all (the majority of people in the world) be really appreciative if you’d talk to President Obama about taking a trip to Copenhagen and making the US an influential leader in reducing toxic emissions. Maybe you guys could head there together and really make a trip of it. Denmark right before Christmas is supposed to be just magical.


Jenn B.

Posted by: jennbreck
November 2, 2009
9:16 pm

While I applaud IBM for being on top of Greenpeace’s leaderbaord, I politely urge your company to speak up for a strong deal in Copenhagen regarding climate change. Please use your clout with governments for international climate action.

Posted by: Denise Lytle
November 2, 2009
12:56 pm

Dear Mr. Palmisano:

I know that IBM has taken a leadership role along with other IT firms in efforts to green the U. S. economy through the use of information and commnunications technologies. I urge you and your company to take a strong supportive position on climate change legislation currently under consideration by Congress and to stand against the “neanderthal” opposition of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to which IBM belongs.

Posted by: Tim Miles
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November 3, 2009
3:49 pm

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November 2, 2009
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[...] 2:10 pm on November 2, 2009 Reply Tags: environment (29), ireland (152), web (658) Splash from IBM and EPA (Ireland) is monitoring 131 water locations around Ireland for not just weather but also faecal coliforms, gas, sewage and others water pollutants. All [...]

Posted by: Splash from IBM and EPA (Ireland) is mon… « Paul M. Watson
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