Water app involves the public in water science

Remote sensing expert Hans van der Woerd (IVM-VU) and colleagues from Maris and NIOZ have developed an app that makes it possible for citizens to assess water quality.

09/14/2017 | 11:57 AM

The app is called EyeOnWater and is freely accessible to anyone who wants to contribute. Colour and clarity of waters can be readily assessed by the human eye and are an indication of substances that are dissolved or suspended in the water column. The app helps citizens to compare the colour of water in rivers, lakes and seas to a predefined colour scale. The last addition to the app is the possibility to assess the state of Ulva, a species of sea lettuce.

Co-developer of the app Hans van der Woerd is a specialist in Remote Sensing of water and the use of Earth observation in environmental management, science and education. He works as a senior scientist at the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) at the VU and is part of Amsterdam Water Science. Van der Woerd is currently implementing the app in Australia.

Global scale
Combined, the observations collected through the app produce a visualisation of water quality on a global scale. These data complement professional scientific observation methods such as those carried out with satellites and at in-situ research stations.

The advantages are evident. Van der Woerd: “Long-term monitoring of a simple attribute of water such as the colour, using low-cost devices and the aid of citizens, could help detect changes taking place in aquatic environments in a rapid way, without the need of costly and time-consuming water quality analyses.” The information collected through the app can be used by scientists as well as water authorities and serves as input for satellite data validation and trend analysis.

Eye on Water
The EyeOnWater app has been developed under the Citclops project by NIOZ, VU Amsterdam, Veerder, and Maris and is funded by EU FP7 programme. The app can be downloaded for free and is compatible with both Apple and Android systems. For more information about the app, go to the Eye on Water website.