CWA's Smart Lake Erie Watershed Technology Roadshow

January 27, 2023

Cleveland Water Alliance and partners LimnoTech and Freeboard Technologies hosted a series of Technology Roadshow events in January 2023 to showcase the technology used in the development of the Smart Lake Erie Watershed Initiative.

Amazing Turnout from Regional Water Authorities

The event was open to students, staff, professionals, and educators of all levels and provided networking opportunities with industry professionals from around the region. We were grateful to host members of Cleveland Metroparks, Case Western Reserve University, NEORSD, regional water treatment/supply organizations, and watershed conservation groups from Cleveland and beyond. Participants learned more about the hundreds of sensors that CWA will provide for deployment in 2023 as part of its Smart Lake Erie Watershed Initiative.

Regional Water Stewardship Organizations discussing the potential uses of LoRaWAN tech.

The Program

Industry partners LimnoTech and Freeboard Technology were onsite giving demonstrations and providing a brief overview of all of the cutting-edge technology they've helped us develop.  

This Technology Roadshow event series spanned several dates at locations across the Great Lakes region including Cleveland, Toledo, Buffalo, and more.

The agenda at each event included an overview of the Smart Lake Erie Watershed Initiative, networking opportunities, a session called "What is LoRaWAN?," and "How can low cost sensors help water monitoring?," as well as a hands-on sensor demonstration, and interactive role-playing experience.

Ed Verhamme of Freeboard Technologies facilitating a panel discussion.
CWA's Jeff Pu presenting about the technology behind our Smart Lake Erie Watershed Initiative

Hands-on Engagement with Tech

Participants at these hands-in events were very excited to engage with the variety of sensors and sensor kits. The short and accessible presentations by CWA and partners gave them a high-level understanding of the goals and progress of the Smart Lake Erie Watershed Initiative as well as key technical elements of the sensor kits and the LoRaWAN network (Low Power Wide Area Networking technology). Though the focus was on low cost technology, participants quickly learned that there is an entire ecosystem of smart and connected devices that are available to use now within a variety of organizations to better monitor water. We were happy to field many questions about LoRaWAN technology and discuss serious interest in implementing it in the region.

Hands-on sensor demonstrations by Freeboard and LimnoTech.
Dr. Jeff Pu showcasing LoWaRAN sensor technology to participants.

Interactive and Collaborative Experiences

The afternoon was spent playing a roleplaying game that had groups of participants building out a theoretical monitoring plan with a limited budget using the various sensors to meet each of their uses. Folks covered everything from tracking performance of restoration projects and ensuring local lakes are safe for swimming, to distributed water quality monitoring networks for source water protection and scaled watershed management. Groups also collaborated to identify areas of the Lake Erie Watershed where increased sensors/monitoring would be beneficial. We identified 9 areas together.

Areas identified for increased sensor monitoring across the Lake Erie Watershed.
Playing an interactive game with guidance from Ed Verhamme of Freeboard Technologies.

Incredible Participant Feedback

We were excited to hear a number of participants share afterwards that they felt like they finally understood LoRa for the first time and are thrilled about the opportunities that are possible because of these sensors. Many attendees were blown away by how inexpensive the tech can be and expressed that they are already thinking about how to use these technologies to help with park operations, such as counting cars. One attendee shared that he is already using cellular networks for a similar purpose but that it draws a lot of power, so he was very interested in the cost/power-saving opportunity presented by use of LoRaWAN. These "light bulb" moments made this event a huge success.

Interested in learning more about our recent Smart Lake Erie Watershed developments?

Photos by Odin Blak, The Cogent Company
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