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Published on Wednesday 21 October 2020

The first phase of an innovative artificial intelligence (AI) water quality sensing project for Poole Harbour is now live.

The new and ground-breaking project is being delivered by AI specialist at UnifAI Technology through a partnership between BCP Council and Poole Harbour Commissioners.

It represents the first live deployment of a network of low-cost remote and continuous sensors which use AI to monitor, in real time, the health of a protected water ecosystem such as Poole Harbour, anywhere in the world

Poole Harbour is one of the world’s largest natural harbours and is recognised internationally as an important area for nature conservation and is designated a Special Protection Area. The harbour supports extensive wild and aquaculture shellfish beds, and water quality is vitally important for this key local industry.

Sensors have been installed on existing navigation buoys and markers across the harbour, including the oyster beds. They require little maintenance, measure several key variables in the water and transmit the data automatically to the Cloud. This provides real-time water quality insights and can be used to quickly detect potential pollutants such as bacterial build up, sewage, fertiliser run-off and industrial discharges which can be harmful for aquatic ecosystems.

Councillor Mark Anderson, Portfolio Holder for Environment at BCP Council, said:

"Poole Harbour is a critical local resource and has been enjoyed by local people for years for commerce, leisure, pleasure, fishing and even for its high quality oyster beds. Like all harbours and estuaries, we face growing challenges to maintaining water quality and are excited to be using artificial intelligence to improve our environmental monitoring. Data will be used to significantly improve our understanding of what is going on in the water, so we can better manage this precious ecosystem in the future."

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