Smart Lake Erie Watershed Initiative


  • Designed, built, and installed nine custom water quality buoys across the Ohio coastline of Lake Erie. 
  • Designed and fabricated 50 custom Internet of Things (IoT) sensor packages to monitor severe weather, flooding, and stormwater. 
  • Deployed a regional LoRaWAN public network that covers 6,200 sq miles and can sustain 100,000+ future device connections. This new infrastructure is a first in the Great Lakes to apply modern telecommunication at scale to enable low-power transmission of sensor data.
  • Developed and maintained a system to store date in the cloud and display observations from sensors deployed throughout the region.

The Ohio waters of Lake Erie contain a high density of fishers, boaters, sailors, and recreational users, in addition to supporting a robust shipping industry and municipal water supplies. Despite its high use and value to the region, Lake Erie has few environmental monitoring assets to track real-time weather and water quality patterns.

In 2022, the Cleveland Water Alliance, in collaboration with Freeboard Technology and LimnoTech, began implementing the Smart Lake Erie Watershed Initiative, which aims to jump start water technology development and use across the Lake Erie region.

During the first year of the initiative, low-cost sensor kits were developed and deployed across northern Ohio. These kits use cutting-edge low-cost sensors from a variety of vendors to measure environmental phenomena, such as harmful algal blooms and related indicators.

In addition, a telecommunications network was installed throughout the region to enable the transmission of data in near-real-time at a fraction of the cost of cellular communications. Overall, this effort marks a first step in making Lake Erie the first “smart lake” and increasing the density of sensors collecting high-frequency data.