A lake in upstate New York is soon going to be much 'smarter,' in fact 'smarter' than any other lake. A new initiative that is being designed to study and manage the lake's unique ecosystem.
The project is taking place in Lake George, New York. Put together by the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, IBM, and the FUND for Lake George, the project will run for three years and is a multi-million dollar collaboration, according to a news release.
The study will examine all aspects of the lake, which is described as "pristine," and take a very close look at any potential threats, including road salt, storm water runoff and invasive species.
How will the lake be 'smart?'
The project, which has been named "The Jefferson Project at Lake George", will be heavily technology-centric. The partners plan to install a state-of-the-art monitoring system.
As a part of the study, they'll be using sensors, gauges, 3-D computer modeling, self-propelled underwater robots and simulation, along with historical and real-time data. Through all this information, experts will observe and follow a variety of trends and other activities affecting the lake, and identifying potential threats.
"The collaboration partners plan to use a combination of advanced data analytics, computing and data visualization techniques, new scientific and experimental methods," said the news release.
Additionally, Rensselaer’s Margaret A. and David M. Darrin '40 Fresh Water Institute on Lake George will be getting some upgrades through IBM.
“Lake George has a lot to teach us, if we look closely,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “By expanding Rensselaer’s Darrin Fresh Water Institute with this remarkable new cyberphysical platform of data from sensors and other sources, and with advanced analytics, high performance computing, and web science, we are taking an important step to protect the timeless beauty of Lake George, and we are creating a global model for environmental research and protection of water resources.”
Over 40 sensors will reportedly be used to take a look at about 25 environmental variables to start.
Studying the past and future of Lake George
Those involved with the study say this project will enable researchers to learn a lot more about Lake George, its history and potential future. Researchers hope to answer questions such as how the lake has remained so pristine and what impact some external factors, such as salt overload, could have on its ecosystem.
The researchers also hope to pinpoint some remediation strategies for any stressors that may impact the lake.
"Through the Jefferson Project, Rensselaer, the FUND for Lake George, and IBM will help advance the state of the science and the practice of water management to create a more precise, actionable and sustainable model that will give us a path forward," said John E. Kelly III, senior vice president and director of IBM Research.
What's in a name?
The name of the project comes as an "homage" to President Thomas Jefferson. According to the news release, Jefferson had described Lake George as "without comparison, the most beautiful water I ever saw."
"The still pure water of Lake George is the lifeblood of our economy, but it will take unprecedented commitment to keep it that way," said Jeffrey M. Killeen, board chairman of the FUND for Lake George. "By shining the light of science on the future of Lake George, this bold collaboration will empower our ability to succeed. It is an historic opportunity to demonstrate just what it will take to protect a priceless natural treasure for future generations. The FUND for Lake George is honored to be playing a role in this vital pursuit."
It is also anticipated this project will enable experts to help other lake systems through the process and information gleaned over the next three years.
Lake George is located in the northern section of eastern New York and is a popular vacation destination. According to reports, the area generates $1 billion annually in tourism for the entire region, $450 million in its county alone.