Water pollution events now detectable from space

The latest project undertaken by the Sustainability Exploration Environmental Data Science programme will focus on the 55-square-mile North Devon Biosphere. 

photo of gray wooden bridge
A new initiative designed to remotely detect sewage overspill from off-planet observations is set to go live, offering highly accurate predictions of major water pollution events. 
CGI’s Sustainability Exploration Environmental Data Science (SEEDS) programme, which launched last year with the United Nations, is partnering with Ordnance Survey on the platform. Readings are taken from  multiple data sources, including  sensors, and offer 91.5% accuracy. Not only will the system be able to identify when a situation is happening, it is also capable of advising on when one may occur in the future, allowing authorises to take preventative steps before environmental damage is done. 
Focusing on the North Devon Biosphere, a UNESCO site, this expansive nature reserve is home to number of rare species, ecosystems, and habitats, including Brauntun Burrows, England’s largest system of sand dunes. Due to the fragility of this area concerns have been growing around the impact of a pollution event, should one occur, in light of the rise in incidence across the UK. Longer term, the aim is to roll the same system out globally, helping protect marine wildlife across the planet. 
Plans for the project were first reported by Environment Journal in February.
‘Here in the UNESCO biosphere reserve, we are keen to push the boundaries of the application of science to improve sustainability of the environment and the links between people and nature. The collaboration with SEEDS is a great opportunity to take our work in digital twinning in a catchment and test its enhancement with remote sensing for water pollutants,’ said Andrew Bell, Chief Executive Office of the North Devon Biosphere. 
‘The solution will benefit farmers, governments, water companies and other stakeholders by protecting our water from pollution and contamination, which is vital for both our way of life and the life of our waterways and coast lines,” continued Yeta. “At CGI, we are committed to providing insights our clients can act on, and with our partners through SEEDS, to bringing our insights and experience to projects such as this where we can really make a difference to our environment and the planet,’ added Mattie Yeta, Chief Sustainability Officer for CGI in the UK.
Image: Anton Sharov


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