Wireless sensors to help monitor Bay of Green Bay

Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 2:38 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 27, 2021 at 5:33 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Some cutting-edge technology will be deployed to help keep an eye on how the water and wildlife are doing on the Bay of Green Bay. Cellcom and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay are working on this together.

Beginning next spring, UW-Green Bay researchers will have a new tool to monitor the health of the bay.

“It’s a wireless technology that’s specially designed to capture really small amounts of data, and it can connect to thousands of devices, lots of devices and those devices operate on very little power, so it can run a very long time,” explains Bob Webb, Cellcom vice president of innovation.

The new technology is called LoRa, which stands for LOng RAnge, and it will be used as a monitoring application on a series of buoy platforms to measure oxygen levels and water clarity in real time.

“It’ll just be collected into basically ‘the cloud,’ and the scientists at UWGB will be able to get access to it and process it in any tools they want to use to do that,” says Webb.

Beyond collecting data underwater, professor Bob Howe is planning to use the wireless sensors in backpacks fitted on pelicans and cormorants.

“We hope to use the LoRa technology to track the feeding behavior and movements of the fish-eating birds in the lower bay, and that will tell us about the potential impact of these birds on the fishery, on the sport fishery, in addition to just the fascinating story of these birds in our system,” says Bob Howe, UWGB Natural and Applied Sciences professor.

As part of the largest freshwater system in the world, Howe says monitoring the bay’s health is a continuous responsibility and any new technology to help do it is a welcome addition.

“We have such a dynamic system here with water levels changing, with different events happening in the watershed, and I think those are always going to be a challenge for us to follow and resolve in the best ways that our technology and resources permit,” says Howe.

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