How to inform the Public of the River Water Quality? - By : Substance,

How to inform the Public of the River Water Quality?

The École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) in Montreal is proud to have successfully completed the second edition of the International Summer School on Innovation and Technological Design, which took place from June 30 to July 29, 2016. 49 students from 15 different countries had registered for the program.

Students of the second edition of the Summer School of the ETS in the company of teachers and managers of the course

Students of the 2016 ÉTS Summer School edition in company of the course professors and managers.

From the creative process in which the best ideas are brought to maturity, to rapid prototyping and 3D up to the innovation process, the students evolve in a multidisciplinary context. Students have evolved with a team of ten professors and an industrial designer: The ÉTS professors Michel BaraërPierre BélangerFrançois BrissetteChristopher FuhrmanRobert HauslerMaarouf Saad and Matthew Toews for the technical aspects of projects, Lorena Escandon and Mario Dubois, for the creativity, innovation and teamwork notions learned, Design Professor Mithra Zahedi from University of Montreal, who introduced them to the concept of design thinking and Félix Guyon, an industrial designer. They also benefited from training sessions and conferences by échoFabIBM, and Ubisoft. The program brings students as far as possible in the innovation process.

Six challenges proposed by the De Gaspé Beaubien Foundation as part of the AquaHacking competition, allowed them to find an innovative solution to the following problem to protect the St. Lawrence River:

  1. Collect water samples from the St. Lawrence River.
  2. Inform the population about the river water quality.
  3. Recognize and identify rare or invasive species in the river.
  4. Reducing bank erosion.
  5. Remove polluting solid waste from the river.


The Summer School “Baby Beluga” team presented a solution to inform and educate the public of the the St. Lawrence River water quality.

The Problem

The City of Montreal has a very interesting website which tracks the bacteriological quality of waterways around Montreal. The French language site’s informs the Montreal public of the bacteriological quality in shore line water and in streams all over the island of Montreal using data from more than 500 water‑sampling sites. The data is gathered once a week for 20 weeks throughout the summer.

The City of Montreal website provides important guidance on the bacteriological quality of waterways surrounding the Island, however, this site is relatively unknown. For the “Baby Beluga” team, it was important to offer to the public a mobile application which provides information and education about water quality in the St. Lawrence River, so that people can enjoy aquatic activities when water quality is safe enough.

The Chosen Solution

To inform

The “Baby Beluga” team chose to inform the public by focusing on data to report on the bacterial and other polluting elements affecting water quality. They designed a mobile and interactive application prototype called Fab River which displays real-time images of the river, lists both the recommended and non-recommended activities, and gives alerts when the city’s sewers overflow (during heavy rain and storms) resulting in spills into the river.


To educate

The mobile app could also educate the public about water quality in two ways:

  • Actively by making information on water pollutants and the associated risks available;
  • Passively by making people acquire information through a game.


The “Baby Beluga” team created a game that empowers the young to roam (virtually) by swimming a section of the St. Lawrence River or its tributaries.


The swimmer must avoid different types of bacteria, heavy metals and other pollutants that could affect his health during his swim. He will learn about the types of pollutants encountered when playing and performing his mission while having fun!



The “Baby Beluga” team: leader, Edoardo Gazzea (Università di Padova, Italia); Team members: Fernanda Beatriz Mendoza Muñiz and Rodrigo Sanchez (TEC Monterrey, Mexico), Jie Ying Leong (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore) and Stanislava Širočková (Czech Technical University of Prague, Czech Republic)


Rodrigo, Edo, Fernanda, Stanislava and Jie Ying


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