Project Clarity

Creating a clearer view of the lake with IoT and Data Analytics

Project Clarity is a community-wide partnership committed to improving the health and clarity of Lake Macatawa and watershed in West Michigan. The intent is to utilize IoT and Data Analytics to evaluate the environmental variables contributing to the water conditions and use the insights to impact change.

A community responds to an ongoing environmental issue

In Michigan, we take our lakes pretty seriously. They bring us joy in the summer, and sometimes, a little too much snow in the winter. So, when Lake Macatawa and the Macatawa Watershed were continually suffering from declining water conditions, specifically high levels of suspended sediment and nutrient phosphorus in its waterways, the local community knew they could help. Project Clarity, a community-wide partnership committed to improving the health and clarity of the lake and watershed, was created as a response.

Images of Lakes around Holland, Michigan

"We brought our expertise around designing and architecting analytics and cloud infrastructures. We built the right components and architecture for the system to work, while also ensuring data integrity by keeping the user’s needs, and the hardware’s requirements, at the forefront.”
- Aaron Kamphuis, OST

Bringing variables together with Azure

Project Clarity is comprised of several organizations including; OST, Twisthink, Sigfox U.S., Grand Valley State University’s Annis Water Resources institute, and Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway. As part of the team, OST has developed an IoT system which consists of sensors located in the watershed, low power radios, and a cloud computing platform. There are four sensors placed throughout the waterway at strategic locations, each transmitting data to a gateway that is consumed into Azure IoT hubs. At the same time, the Azure hubs are pulling in data from multiple sources on rainfall history, precipitation forecast, and drainage information. Working with Twisthink on requirements, OST created the Azure IoT hubs, and the power BI dashboard for end users. The Cortana analytics in Azure utilize real time and historical data to see all of the variables at once and understand how the environmental variables are affecting the water quality. The complete IoT and analytics solution was created from the ground up, 100% built and run in Azure.

Grand Valley State University Logo

Customer Voice

"Monitoring sediment movement and quantity is one of the most difficult tasks in watershed science. The new automated IOT reporting system provides a unique and powerful platform to track sediment in real-time, which aids in both the identification of critical source areas and the assessment of restoration efforts."

Alan D. Steinman

Allen and Helen Hunting Director, Grand Valley State University Annis Water Resources Institute

Using IoT platforms for cost-effective insights

The water quality sensors have been deployed over the past two years on the Macatawa River to get a better idea of how much sediment flows through the river and the impact of constructed wetlands. The data-gathering process previously involved someone traveling to the test site monthly and venturing out into the water to collect the logged data from the sensors. Now, using the newly developed IoT system, this process can be automated by sending data wirelessly to a server and monitor it remotely in real-time, dramatically reducing the costs of obtaining the valuable data. This provides the local partners timely updates on the changing stream conditions. This project will also benefit local classrooms, ranging from middle school to graduate level courses, as the dashboard will serve as an educational tool for classroom projects and discussions.

With this cloud based solution, end users are able to view the dashboard and quickly see how the changing drainage, rainfall, and sensor data are affecting the waterways, both currently, and from a historical perspective. While the declining water conditions have not yet been solved, the team is able to monitor the conditions to predict future potential issues thanks to this platform. As they continue to learn about the correlation between these variables and how the water reacts, potential solutions will be better informed and resources can be allocated for efficiently.