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Title: In-situ and remote monitoring of environmental water quality
Authors: EI
Keywords: Chemical detectors
Environmental chemistry
Issue Date: 2011
Description: Environmental water pollution affects human health and reduces the quality of our natural water ecosystems and resources. As a result, there is great interest in monitoring water quality and ensuring that all areas are compliant with legislation. Ubiquitous water quality monitoring places considerable demands upon existing sensing technology. The combined challenges of system longevity, autonomous operation, robustness, large-scale sensor networks, operationally difficult deployments and unpredictable and lossy environments collectively represents a technological barrier that has yet to be overcome[1]. Ubiquitous sensing envisages many aspects of our environment being routinely sensed. This will result in data streams from a large variety of heterogeneous sources, which will often vary in their volume and accuracy. The challenge is to develop a networked sensing infrastructure that can support the effective capture, filtering, aggregation and analysis of such data. This will ultimately enable us to dynamically monitor and track the quality of our environment at multiple locations. Microfluidic technology provides a route to the development of miniaturised analytical instruments that could be deployed remotely, and operate autonomously over relatively long periods of time (months–years). An example of such a system is the autonomous phosphate sensor[2] which has been developed at the CLARITY Centre, in Dublin City University. This technology, in combination with the availability of low power, reliable wireless communications platforms that can link sensors and analytical devices to online databases and servers, form the basis for extensive networks of autonomous analytical ‘stations’ or ‘nodes’ that will provide high quality information about key chemical parameters that determine the quality of our aquatic environment. The system must also have sufficient intelligence to enable adaptive sampling regimes as well as accurate and efficient decision-making responses. A particularly exciting area of development is the combination of remote satellite/aircraft based monitoring with the in-situ ground-based monitoring described above. Remote observations from satellites and aircraft can provide significant amounts of information on the state of the aquatic environment over large areas. As in-situ deployments of sensor networks become more widespread and reliable, and satellite data becomes more widely available, information from each of these sources can complement and validate the other, leading to an increased ability to rapidly detect potentially harmful events, and to assess the impact of environmental pressures on scales ranging from small river catchments to the open ocean. In this paper, we will assess the current status of these approaches, and the challenges that must be met in order to realise the vision of true internet- or global-scale monitoring of our environment. References: [1] Integration of analytical measurements and wireless communications – Current issues and future strategies. King Tong Lau, Sarah Brady, John Cleary and Dermot Diamond, Talanta 75 (2008) 606–612. [2] An autonomous microfluidic sensor for phosphate: on-site analysis of treated wastewater. John Cleary, Conor Slater, Christina McGraw and Dermot Diamond, IEEE Sensors Journal, 8 (2008) 508-515.
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