Timeline: May 2020 (1 week)

Focus: Data Visualization • Citizen Science • Installation Design • Environmental Design

This B&O Bridge Renewal pitch seeks to address the lack of transparency when it comes to water quality in low income areas. The B&O Bridge sits on the Lower Schuykill River, in Philadelphia. As many urban rivers in the US, the Schuykill never fully recovered from its days of being an industrial waste dump.

This project has two main objectives. Foremost, to visualize water quality data in a simple and engaging way. Secondly, to involve citizens in the data collection process in order to create more personal connections between Philly residents and their river.

1 Visualizing

Understanding a problem is the first step to solving in. By visualizing water quality in a way that is simple and engaging, Philly residents can better understand the health of their environment. This visualization uses the universally recognized stoplight colors to indicate whether the river is doing great (green), not too well (yellow), or is dangerously sick (red). The Schuykill River changes directions with the tides, and the LEDs fastened onto the bridge will indicate the direction of flow. The bridge visualization will also indicate where the pollution is most significant along the river – so individuals can see how water flow impacts the spread of pollution.

2 Sensing

I selected six measures of water quality to determine river health: temperature, pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, bacteria (such as e.Coli), and metals (including mercury and copper). These measures are inspired by data that is already regularly collected in the Schuykill River, but are also fairly simple data to collect for the amateur scientist. Kits will be designed for citizen scientists who want to play a roll in water quality measurement. Individuals will be able to purchase a kit (proceeds will go towards cleaning efforts), input data into a mobile app, and see their efforts reflected in the larger visualization.