31 July 2013
Engineering students use technology to clean up the environment
A smartphone app and website which the public can use to report incidents of environmental pollution have been developed
by students at Victoria University’s School of Engineering and Computer Science.
The innovations are part of the River Watch project, carried out by a group of third-year engineering students,
supervised by Professor Winston Seah.
The students have also been testing unmanned flying vehicles equipped with GPS technology to record incidents of
pollution in New Zealand rivers, particularly those involving livestock.
Professor Seah says the project has been a tremendous opportunity for students to apply their technical expertise to
helping solve a real problem.
“The project has involved a wide range of technical work for the students, with the results giving members of the public
a way to monitor and report environmental incidents, from livestock polluting waterways, to rubbish dumping and
overflows from outfall pipes.
“The smartphone app allows people to upload photographs and automatically generated GPS coordinates of environmental
pollution they observe which, once verified, will be made publicly available online,” says Professor Seah.
The River Watch app and website were officially launched today at Victoria University, where guests, including MPs and
representatives from local government, heard presentations from Professor Seah, Massey University environmental
sustainability expert Dr Mike Joy, and James and Grant Muir who started the Waterway Action Initiative New Zealand (Wai
River Watch began as part of a third-year engineering module where students apply their project management skills in a
group project. The work continued as a summer research project at Victoria, supported by Wai NZ.
Wai NZ are now using the technology, with the River Watch app now available to download for iPhone. It will also be
available for Android. Further details, including an interactive map of photographs collected as part of the River Watch
project, are available at the Wai NZ website: www.wainz.org.nz