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Cell Phone Users to Help Protect Water Supply

USF engineers will use data and information posted to social media to help municipal planners take a more comprehensive approach in addressing challenges to our water supply

TAMPA, Fla (September 27, 2017) -- Social media and smartphone sensors will soon play a pivotal role in improving the nation’s water management system. A new Android cell phone app arms average citizens with sensors that record information on changes to drinking water and water resources.

The Water Citizen Science (WatCitSci) project records pictures and videos to pinpoint the locations of rising and depleting water levels, flash floods and other characteristics such as cloudiness and dissolved oxygen concentration.

Engineers at the University of South Florida in Tampa will use that data and information posted to social media to create algorithms, allowing planners in municipalities, agriculture and other water-intensive sectors to take a more comprehensive approach in addressing challenges to our water supply, especially following hurricanes and other natural disasters.

“The sensing power of smartphones, and the rich and diverse information on social media today when harnessed appropriately can enable broad societal benefits, which this project aims to accomplish” said principal investigator Sriram Chellappan, PhD, associate professor in the USF Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

The National Science Foundation-funded project gives researchers and the community a stronger understanding of how water impacts food, energy and society as a whole. The data could be vital in protecting one of our nation’s most important resources.

Story by Tina Meketa, University Communications and Marketing


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