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(Galway) Baywatch - IBM monitors Ireland's beaches

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IBM and Ireland's Environmental Protection Agency are helping Irish bathers avoid floundering into a warm pool of industrial sludge with a website that tracks water quality and conditions across more than 130 beaches and lakes in the country.

Along with An Taisce (AKA the National Trust for Ireland), the organizations are now collecting environmental and safety data from Ireland's top bathing spots to make it readily accessible for public eyes at the online portal, Splash.

Collecting the environmental data is already a requirement of the European 2006 Bathing Water Directive, but IBM said information such as water samples and level of compliance with standards aren't typically available until a year after they are collected.

The Splash website aims to provide the public with up-to-date water conditions in addition to aid reporting by local governments and state agencies.

"For average citizens, Splash is a great way to research different beaches and decide where to visit based on a number of parameters — water quality, weather, and whether or not a lifeguard is on duty, for example," Jenny Hunter, Communications Manager at IBM's Research and Smarter Water unit told El Reg "With Splash, people can get an interactive map-based view of 131 beaches and lakes around Ireland, and can steer clear of polluted or otherwise unsafe bodies of water."

The website's water information management system is powered by IBM's WebSphere Application Server, Hunter said. While the site provides a good amount of data in a straightforward manner, we at Vulture Central had a somewhat difficult time getting elements such as the interactive map and formatting to load properly on some systems.

"Our collaboration with IBM and An Taisce is paving the way for smarter water quality management at our beaches and lakes," said Mary Kelly, EPA Ireland Director General in a statement. "It is a good example of how smart green technologies can be deployed to provide easily accessible and useful information to the public. The Splash portal is just the beginning of what we hope to accomplish."

The website is currently live in Ireland with hopes to expand coverage across EU member states, IBM told El Reg. The company also reckons its technology could find a place supporting beach and coastal monitoring initiatives in the US and parts of Asia. ®

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