Oct. 21, 2019

Ann Arbor, Mich. – Tomorrow, the Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS), a nonprofit organization coordinating Great Lakes data collection, management, and sharing, will announce the launch of the Smart Great Lakes Initiative as part of their strategic plan for 2020-2025.

The Smart Great Lakes Initiative exists to modernize an information ecosystem based on Great Lakes environmental data in order to improve understanding, use, and management of the lakes. This information ecosystem will connect the binational Great Lakes watershed, the largest freshwater system in the world, with advanced data management and analysis, leveraging technology innovations that get people the information they need, when they need it.

The vision is to make the Great Lakes “smart.”

“All of us who live and work in the region can benefit from a coordinated approach to enriching Great Lakes information,” said Kelli Paige, GLOS Chief Executive Officer. “We want this effort to serve a variety of decision-makers including researchers who want to compare data, mayors, premieres, and governors who need to guide their communities, and boaters looking for a safe day on the lake.”

A binational, collaborative effort including private industry, state, provincial, federal, tribal, academic, and non-profit partners and stakeholders, the Smart Great Lakes Initiative will work to identify and meet the information needs of the region’s policy makers, municipal and natural resource managers, and recreational users, among others. The effort aims to improve the way people learn about and respond to lake events, inform critical policy, and direct future science and innovation.

“The protection and sustainable development of the basin requires intimate knowledge about how socioeconomic activities impact the health of the entire watershed,” said Mark Fisher, President and CEO of the binational Council of the Great Lakes Region. “The council is proud to support and develop the Smart Great Lakes Initiative so that policymakers, scientists, and businesses can make better decisions.”

For more than a decade, GLOS has worked to build systems that allow people to easily access and use Great Lakes environmental data from buoys, scientific models, in-water sensors, and more. GLOS plays a foundational role in helping overcome information gaps to tackle issues related to water quality, ecosystem restoration, and resource management.

“Making our data public through GLOS means easy collaboration with other researchers and easy access for whomever else out there might find it useful. Calling the research community to start doing this on a larger scale will be huge,” said Aaron Fisk, a GLOS board member and professor at the University of Windsor.

And smart projects are already beginning to gain speed throughout the region thanks to cultivation by organizations like Cleveland Water Alliance (CWA), which encourages water technology innovation and business around Lake Erie. CWA is an initiative co-founder and co-lead.

“We’re proud our work towards a smart and connected Lake Erie has inspired the vision for Smart Great Lakes,” said Bryan Stubbs, Executive Director of CWA. “We look forward to continuing to partner with GLOS to see this take shape.”

GLOS is launching the initiative inspired by existing regional partnerships, advances in data technology, as well as agreements and collaborative initiatives such as the U.S.-Canada Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909, the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, the U.S. Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the U.S. Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

“When you look at the binational challenges we, as a region, are looking to solve and the technology that GLOS has the capability to leverage, this is a natural, and, frankly, very exciting next step for the organization,” said Jennifer Boehme, GLOS Board Chair and International Joint Commission Environmental Scientist.

Though enabled by advances in technology, Smart Great Lakes isn’t just about data. The initiative aspires to harmonize the technology and policies that can help the entire watershed realize the full potential of “smarter” Great Lakes.

“I’m very eager to see what this initiative will mean for Great Lakes fisheries,” said Bob Lambe, GLOS board member and Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) Executive Secretary.  “Better sharing the information we have as a region would greatly help the GLFC and our partner agencies make management decisions.”

The launch of this initiative begins with a call for data generators, researchers, funders, policy makers, resource managers, and industry in the region to come together around the vision of utilizing the latest technologies to share information to better understand the lakes. To that end, GLOS leadership is currently in the process of gathering partners like Cleveland Water Alliance and the Council of the Great Lakes Region who can help bring the initiative into various sectors and advance common goals that align with the Smart Great Lakes Initiative vision.

The Smart Great Lakes Initiative is currently supported by:

  • Cleveland Water Alliance, co-founder and co-lead

  • The Council of the Great Lakes Region, co-lead

  • The Great Lakes Commission

  • The Great Lakes Fishery Commission

  • Great Lakes Office of the International Joint Commission

  • Healing Our Waters Great Lakes Coalition

  • Lake Carriers’ Association

  • Realtime Aquatic Ecosystem Observation Network-University of Windsor

GLOS is calling those interested in learning more about and supporting the goals of the Smart Great Lakes Initiative to register for tomorrow’s webinar and follow up with our staff.

Register for the webinar here.

Read the strategic plan here.

For more info, contact Katie Rousseau, Smart Great Lakes Liaison, at katie@glos.us and (419) 215-7748.

Data + Info