Published on January 25th, 2010 | by Guest Contributor


$1.45 million QinetiQ Research on Remote Environmental Sensors

Measuring and monitoring environmental impact is a continuing challenge. I’m seeing new tools and attitudes that will enable nations and corporations do a better job of monitoring and, hopefully, reducing emissions and impact- from Google Earth’s aggregation of satellite data to track forest size to energy efficient office buildings.

A new tool called The Sensor Web for Infrastructure Management (Swima) from QinetiQ, a privatized defense and technology firm connected to England’s Ministry of Defense, examines how advances in sensor technologies could revolutionize environmental monitoring.

Photo Credit: Ennor Swima will monitor environmental impact with remote sensors through a web-based interface

Swima will monitor environmental impact with remote sensors through a web-based interface

Monitoring the myriad of environmental factors currently requires intense people-hours from a variety of agencies. The Swima initiative will evaluate ways to gather and monitor information from a variety of sensors placed strategically in the environment. The theory is that the more they know the better they can act. Swima promises to provide early notification for pollution incidents and potential environmental risks.

“Remote control of sensors, using satellite communications to reach even the most far reaching regions, can ensure detailed measurements are collected for significant events and reduce the need for maintenance visits,” — Alec Walker, QinetiQ project technical manager

The two-year study will cost $1.45 million, with funding from a QinetiQ-led consortium including the Environment Agency of England and Wales, South West Water, 1Spatial Group Limited, YSI Hydrodata Limited, and the University of Nottingham’s Centre for Geospatial Science. Research will begin with a project to monitor water quality in the River Tamar in South West England, and QinetiQ will use the results to evaluate sensor use in other difficult-to-monitor locations. Over the next few months the research phase will deploy more sensors and establish and test a secure web-based control system- the eventual plan being to create a common user-interface for managing and controlling a range of sensors to monitor water quality, measure temperature, humidity, acidity, and other environmental indicators.

“Monitoring the condition of the environment is a major activity for us and so we look forward to exploring new technology and exploiting it in all areas where it can improve our capability and do this in an efficient manner.” –John Kupiec of the Environment Agency

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