Based on the idea that contribution of volunteers might play a fundamental role in monitoring and protecting the environment, CNR-ISTI designed and developed a mobile application in order to allow people to timely report oil spills.
By downloading the FREE app "ARGO Sentinel" volunteers are helping to monitor the health of our seas and the scientific research by demonstrating that the use of this new technology could be really important to combat pollution. Moreover this experiment suggests that this kind of technology can be applied in many other fields.
Whoever at sea sights pollution by oil or hydrocarbons is now able to immediately report the event to the Laboratory of Signals and Images SI-LAB (si.isti.cnr.it) of the Institute of Science and Information Technologies of the Italian National Research Council (CNR-ISTI) in Pisa, allowing the realization of a detailed map of the health of our seas. This information is recorded in the Marine Information System (MIS) produced by CNR, able to collect geotagged data relating to critical and health issues of the sea from various sources (satellites, optical sensors, electronic noses, autonomous underwater vehicles systems) and integrate and generate predictive models to assist the authorities in the management of emergencies at sea.
The application, distributed in Italian, English and Greek languages, for smartphones equipped of GPS is an easy to use tool designed for anyone, that for any reason, sail the seas. It allows you to send reports of suspected spills to the CNR specifying the precise point, severity and a description of the spill.
The main screen of ARGO Sentinel shows:
- A "Message" area to enter a description of the sighting. It allows the user to provide a detailed description of the oily spill detected, the damage already caused and/or the context in which it is located;
- A "Red Alert" button: to signal a major oil-spill with a diameter greater than or equal to 20 meters approx.;
- A "Yellow Alert" button: to report a mild/moderate amount of oil spill with a diameter less than 20 meters approx.;
- An "i" button: for information on the use of the app;
- An "exit" button to close the app.
By clicking on the red or yellow alarm buttons, you send a SMS to the CNR headquarters, which will process the data received (the cost of SMS varies depending on which tariff plan you are on).
In particular, the detected latitude and longitude values can be used by user to notify the competent authorities the precise point in case of important spillage seen. The contact number in Italy is 1530. Reporting to the competent authorities do not fall within the tasks defined by the App, thus the end user is solely responsible.
The interest for this app has been beyond all expectations: the news of its publication in ten days covered more than 25 millions of results by searching ARGO Sentinel on Google, saturating all the one hundred pages the search engine returns to users. Moreover interviews have been published on televisions, radios and newspapers.
The app has been installed by more than five hundred persons from all over the globe, for the most part by Italian people. By integrating the alerts sent by the volunteers with all the other informative sources collected in the MIS, a semi-automatic analysis selected those that could be not false positive. Even if we do not have obligations as the project is only for research purposes, we felt compelled to forward all the significant information to the General Command of Italian Coast Guards in Rome, Italy, who took in charge the reports.
The researchers of the Signals and Images Laboratory of CNR-ISTI stress the importance of technological research for environmental and social purposes: we often see technological research and social needs walking on parallel tracks and never finding a meeting point. It is important, however, to develop research projects in which technology and needs talk to each other to achieve final results useful to the reality that surrounds us. It's just a matter of providing the right tools to get in touch technology, research institutions and end-users. And this is what we wanted to do with ARGO Sentinel.
A goal that has been achieved is to that we have had a more detailed and immediate knowledge of the conditions of the sea during the period of the project activity. The use of this application is a step forward in marine environmental monitoring, because as well as the technologies that are used by the Argomarine project it also adds the contribution of volunteers who can easily communicate the sighting of a spill.
Knowing that a not accidental spill can be detected and that this can be done timely it is already itself a deterrent to malicious actions. Possible developments may allow a more effective intervention by the authorities.
ARGOMARINE, which stands for "Automatic Recognition and managed integrated in a Marine Monitornig Network", is a European scientific project (FP7-SST-2008-RTD-1-234096), which aims at traffic and marine pollution monitoring within the Mediterranean basin and, in particular in areas of special natural value such as the Tuscan Archipelago and the Marine Park of Zakynthos.
Coordinated by the Tuscan Archipelago National Park (www.islepark.it,), ARGOMARINE has among its international partners the CNR / ISTI - Institute of Science and Technology of ' Information (www.isti.cnr.it), the National Technical University of Athens (www.ntua.gr), the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center (www.nersc.no), the Centro de Investigação Marinha and Ambiental, Universidade do Algarve (cima.ualg.pt), the National Maritime Park of Zakinthos (www.nmp-zak.org), the Joint Research Center (ipsc.jrc.ec.europa.eu) and the NATO Undersea Research Center (www.cmre.nato.int)
ARGO Sentinel is an app developed only for scientific purposes. The developers disclaim any responsibility arising from the improper use of the application.
The ARGO Sentinel app is downloadable by Google at the following address http://tinyurl.com/argosentinel
Info and Contacts:
Massimo Martinelli, Davide Moroni, Ovidio Salvetti - Signals and Images Lab, CNR-Institute of Information Science and Technologies - www.isti.cnr.it
firstname.lastname@example.org - tel. 050/621.28.03
Michele Cocco - Parco Nazionale Arcipelago Toscano - email@example.com - www.argomarine.eu - tel 0565/91.94.11