Cleveland Water Alliance (CWA) and DigitalC Work Together to Build the First Smart Great Lake

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We are building next-generation digital infrastructure for Lake Erie that drives technical innovation, social vibrancy, ecological resiliency, and economic development for its communities.

Lake Erie is an essential asset to the communities and industries that populate its shores. Unfortunately, our lake is an asset under threat. In August of 2014, a Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) deprived 500,000 Toledo residents of public water for 56 straight hours. Current science suggests that, barring significant reduction in the nutrient pollution that drives the problem, blooms of this scale may become an annual norm, ensuring a regional loss of $1.3 billion over the next 30 years.

These figures are startling, but Cleveland Water Alliance and DigitalC have turned our Great Lake’s vulnerability into an opportunity by launching Internet of H2O with US Ignite. This targeted challenge activated a handful of innovative entrepreneurs and researchers to pilot next-generation networking, detection, and analytics solutions for nutrient monitoring. All teams successfully deployed their Internet of Water (IoW) solutions during the competition.

The challenge concluded in October of 2017 with $50,000 in prizes awarded to the highest performing teams but Cleveland Water Alliance and DigitalC understand that Internet of H2O was only the beginning. The final pitches coincided with a roundtable of key stakeholders including AT&T, IBM, Cisco, Great Lakes Observing System, US EPA Innovation Team, NASA RED, and Xylem. The discussion focused on opportunities to scale the IoW solutions developed during the challenge. This coalition of experts and decision-makers defined a forward-thinking vision for a Smart Lake Erie.  

An IoW system is needed to keep people safe from harmful algae and reduce nutrient pollution, but the concept shouldn't stop there. Such a system could integrate and interpret a broad range of parameters that impact a host of legacy and emerging challenges. A Smart Lake Erie could serve as a platform for the transformation of data into tools that enable users to leverage water resources for ecological integrity and regional development.

The Smart Lake Coalition has activated stakeholders at all levels, identified promising early-stage technologies, and cultivated regional partners to accelerate implementation. We are now working to bring the capital resources required to leverage our activated assets into a scaled Smart Lake pilot. Stay tuned as we work to scale this key infrastructure asset for our water and our region.