A New Approach to Monitoring Lakes in Developing Countries – Crowdsourcing Environmental Science

Sahithi Pingali

Sahithi Pingali
Inventure Academy, Bangalore, Karnataka
Title: A New Approach to Monitoring Lakes in Developing Countries – Crowdsourcing Environmental Science
Lake pollution is a major and growing environmental threat in developing countries, exacerbated by the lack of ongoing scientific data about health of lakes. One way to address this problem is to crowdsource monitoring of lakes to interested citizens. We investigated changes in a lake in Bangalore, India over three months and found that there was double digit percentage change in several chemical and physical parameters, confirming that frequent monitoring of lakes would be valuable.
We went on to develop an integrated mobile phone app and lake monitoring kit consisting of an electronic sensing device and chemical test strips. The electronic device measures total dissolved solids, electrical conductivity, and temperature of a water sample, and transmits this data to a mobile app. The app also measures contaminant concentration levels of pH, Hardness, Alkalinity, Copper, and Nitrites by detecting color changes in chemical test strips. All data collected by the app is uploaded to a cloud platform that enables spatiotemporal visualizations of health parameters of multiple lakes. We validated that our first of a kind end-to-end lake monitoring system gives reliable data and initial crowdsourcing experiments showed that this approach could indeed provide valuable insights on the changing conditions of lakes.