Wednesday, 26 February 2020


Donation to MBAS allows improvement in collection of water quality data

Wireless Nation, a technology company with a range of innovative products, has recently donated a sensor to Mercury Bay Area School to improve the way the school is collecting data about the quality of the water in a small creek behind the premises of the Whitianga Gun Club. The club is situated in the Moewai Park industrial area in Whitianga.

The donation was made possible through a recent installation of an “Internet of Things” network in Whitianga by technology giant Thinxtra.

Whitianga residents, Jason and Sharlene Sommerville are responsible for the commercial sales of Wireless Nation. Among the company’s products are satellite broadband in the most remote locations in New Zealand, rural broadband wherever 4G cell phone reception is available, broadband in motorhomes, marinas and boats and data and tracking sensors.

“Our sensors allow businesses and individuals to remotely monitor the performance of equipment, the location of assets and the collection of information,” says Jason. “Households, for example, will receive a text if their fridge at home isn’t performing as it should while they’re away on holiday and fleet owners can track where their vehicles are any time of the day or night by simply logging on to the internet.”

MBAS has started monitoring the quality of the water in the creek behind the Whitianga Gun Club some time ago. A data probe designed by MBAS science teacher, Thomas Everth is used to collect the information. The data is collected in intervals of 10 minutes. Previously the information was recorded onto a memory stick that formed part of the data probe and had to be retrieved by hand. “There was always the risk that the probe would stop working and we wouldn’t know it until it was time to retrieve the memory stick again,” says Thomas. “When Jason and Sharlene offered to donate a sensor to us to take over the work of the memory stick, I was pretty happy. Not only can we now read the data the probe is collecting in real time, we will also know immediately if there’s a problem with the probe.”

The data probe monitors, among other things, the salinity, pH and dissolved oxygen levels and clarity of the water in the creek. “We expect to see certain things at certain times,” says Thomas. “It’s normal for the salinity and pH levels of the water in the creek to be much higher when the tide is in and it’s also normal for more oxygen to be in the water during the day than at night. When the data starts to show a trend that’s an indication of a potential problem, that’s when we need to start asking ourselves what the cause of the problem is.”
Jason is excited about MBAS’s use of the Wireless Nation sensor. “I’ve asked Thomas to discuss with his students what other uses the sensor can possibly have. We’ve already talked about predator trapping and a notification being sent to a trapper whenever a trap went off. That may help the trapper to better plan when they next have to inspect a trap line. I’m keen to see what the students are going to come up with.”

Jason and Thomas have both been invited to speak at Techweek Waikato ’18, a regional technology symposium that will be held from Saturday 19 May to Sunday 27 May at venues around the Waikato region.


Caption - Mercury Bay Area School science teacher, Thomas Everth (on the left) with Jason and Sharlene Sommerville of Wireless Nation.


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