Space Technology Computer Summer Camp2000

Environmental Problem Solving Using Computer Applications

Camp Problem

The Hackensack Meadowlands District is a 32 square mile area of marshes rivers and human development. The marshes and river have been heavily contaminated in the past by industry and disposal of municipal solid waste (garbage).

In an effort to clean up this area the Hackensack Meadowland Development Commission (HMDC) and the State of New Jersey has imposed strict regulations for dumping dirty water and garbage anywhere in the District. To make sure things are kept clean they take samples of water and air. Every three months, a scientist from the HMDC goes to 14 different locations near marshes and rivers and takes a sample of water. The sample is taken to a laboratory where it is analyzed and the information is recorded and compared to other sampling dates and places in the District. By monitoring the water the scientist can tell if the water is getting cleaner and can tell if people are really obeying the regulations by not dumping garbage and dirty water into the marshes and rivers.

Recently, new technology has been invented in the form of automatic solar powered monitoring stations. These stations can measure water and weather parameters continuously with out the need for samples. They are permanently placed along the river and marshes and collect information every 5 minutes. Once the information is collected, the stations automatically turn on their cell phones and call a central computer which receives the information and puts it in a spreadsheet and then the information is moved to a WWW site for all to view. Once these stations are installed and working there will be no need for the scientist to go and manually take samples to bring to the laboratory.

We need you to help us find out where to put the seven stations we have so they are near the river and cover as much as possible of the District. Also help us figure out how far the stations will be from the central building so we know if we can plug the stations in or we will need solar panels for electricity. We also need to know what is the best sampling interval. In other words, how many times a day will the stations measure the quality of the water. In the past, samples were taken once every three months by going to the river and filling a cup with water and taking it back to the lab for analysis. Our new stations can measure every 5 minutes if we want to and with out the need to take samples back to the lab. The problem is that too much information is expensive to transmit through a cell phone. You will help us determine the cost to transmit water quality measurments for each station using a cell phone and a modem.

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