Making Lake George the Smartest Water Body in the World

Jun 28, 2013

IBM Research Scientist Harry Kolar (right), Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer of the RPI Darrin Fresh Water Institute (center) and Eric Siy from The FUND to Save Lake George scout locations for new sensors.
Credit IBM

A new scientific research project is bringing together IBM, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Fund for Lake George to assure the ecological and economic future of Lake George and create the “smartest” lake in the world.

Lake George is a water body at the tipping point of survival. The Jefferson Project - named to honor Thomas Jefferson’s comment that Lake George’s waters were the most beautiful he ever saw - is a multi-million dollar effort to make the water body the “smartest lake” in the world.
An initial 40 sensing platforms will be deployed across the 32-milelong lake to monitor and collect data on 25 environmental variables, including water chemistry, air and water currents, weather, pollutants, invasive species and stream flows.
The Darren Freshwater Institute, the environmental research arm of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will serve as the home base for the Jefferson Project. RPI President Dr. Shirley Jackson.

Dr. Jackson says advanced technologies will be used to establish a global model for ecosystem monitoring and understanding.

IBM Senior Vice President and Director of Research Dr. John Kelly explained that supercomputers capable of processing more than 188 trillion operations per second will analyze the Lake George data.

Fund for Lake George Executive Director Eric Siy says what has been discovered so far tells us more about what is not known.

The project builds upon and enhances research IBM is conducting on waterways in Galway, Ireland, Rio de Janiero and the Hudson River. IBM’s Dr. John Kelly says he’s been asked with the ongoing international research, why Lake George was chosen for the advanced data collection project.

It’s anticipated this three-year project will help other lake systems. IBM’s Kelly says Great Lakes researchers are already eying the project as Siy notes the project is intended to be a global model.

One goal is to allow policymakers to make data driven decisions. Republican State Senator Betty Little says having the data will allow for proactive decisions.

IBM, RPI and the Fund for Lake George say until design elements are completed, exact investments are not known.