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Introducing BlueDot, EO Solution for Water Resources Monitoring

Sinergise introduced the BlueDot Water Observatory service based on the Copernicus satellite imagery that provides timely information about water levels of lakes, dams, reservoirs, wetlands and similar water bodies globally. The BlueDot provides useful information and easy-to-use services on its own, but it can also serve as a starting point, a reference, around which a larger, predictive analytics-oriented business focused on exploitation of satellite imagery can be built.

Water crises are one of the Sustainable Development Goals, and have been ranked by the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Risks report as one of the top ten most serious societal risks facing the world. As water is expected to become increasingly scarce in the future, governments will need all the help they can get understanding their water challenges, predicting risks, and tackling any existing water problems. Implementing ground-based water monitoring and measuring networks is costly and due to networks deterioration in some cases also unreliable. Developing countries in particular need affordable, yet reliable solutions and tools for monitoring available water resources.

Landsat 8 data courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey Processed by Pierre Markuse

The key benefit of the BlueDot service is the accumulation of current and historic global water level data in one place. Because of its cost-effective approach anyone is able to access this valuable information freely. Not only water authorities but also citizens can now better understand the state of their local and global environment.

The goal of the BlueDot is to monitor the water levels of over ten thousand water bodies in near real time across the planet. All observations are provided and can be explored interactively through the BlueDot Water Observatory Dashboard. More than 7,000 water bodies are currently already available. New data are constantly being added according to the water risk ranking map from the Aqueduct project provided by WorldResources Institute.

_Thanks to the wet winter season 2018 in Western Cape the prospects for Day Zero in Cape Town in 2019 are very low. The water levels of the Theewaterskloof Dam acquired through the BlueDot web application

The BlueDot service was developed based on available research in Earth Observation (EO), which is unfortunately still not exploited efficiently. This solution builds on top and is complementary to previous projects like Global Surface Water Explorer (by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and Google) and demonstrates the possibility of building an efficient global EO service, freely available and practically fitting into your laptop.

Everyone can Benefit from the Water Observatory

Beside already mentioned, the BlueDot Water Observatory provides an important service to local authorities, governmental agencies, natural parks and reserves, agricultural ministries and agencies, stakeholders in food production, and citizens alike. They can use the data provided by the Water Monitor through the RESTful API as an important input in their decision-making process, planning, or simply to display water levels of water resources of their interest on-line.

Technology Used

The BlueDot Water Observatory is based on the following key technologies and data sources:

• Satellite imagery is acquired using sentinelhub Python package, which uses Sentinel Hub services.
• Cloud masking is performed using s2cloudless Python package developed by Sinergise.
• The list of monitored water bodies is based on GWSP’s Global Reservoir and Dam (GRanDv1.01) database, and WWF’s Global Lakes and Wetlands Database (levels 1 and 2). The polygons outlining the nominal water extent of majority of water bodies in our database have been replaced with data from OpenStreetMap. We used simplified feature maps prepared by Geofabrik. The database of water bodies is available for download.

Image shows the Folsom Lake, U.S. on November 6, 2018. The shape files of water areas from OpenStreetMap are visualized in blue. The BlueDot Water Observatory application provides the shape files of the current state of the water body based on cover classification, which are visualized in orange.

• Vector data manipulation is done using geopandas and shapely Python packages.
• Vectorisation of detected water extent is done using rasterio Python package.
• Current water levels are displayed in map using mapbox GL and the dashboard displaying the historic data (time-series) results has been developed in-house.

_The water levels of the Folsom Lake, U.S. from January 2016 up to date (inspect the data in the BlueDot Water Observatory

BlueDot as Open-Source

BlueDot technology is open-source, so that anyone can use it and build a similar service for other use cases as well. The technical description will follow in the future, but for those interested you can find the latest development version of the source code on Sinergise’s Github: open-sourced code for water detection algorithm and front-end dashboard.

At Sinergise they believe that the BlueDot Water Observatory will take an important role in providing a relevant data base of water bodies combined with the full archive of satellite imagery up to date.

For more information about the BlueDot project go to the official page and freely explore all currently available data through the Dashboard. If you have any questions, suggestions or feedback, send an email to or contact the creators of the service via Twitter!