Lakeforecast.org homepage features user login, search field and interactive map of all lakes and beaches in Madison

Building an app to monitor water quality

LakeForecast.org, a crowdsourced monitoring app launched by the Clean Lakes Alliance, has been rebuilt by the 5NINES Web Development team.  The interactive lake monitoring app provides real-time information regarding the water quality of Madison’s lakes.

Toxins produced by cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms can be detected with specialized tests.

LakeForecast.org utilizes over 70 citizen volunteers to provide valuable condition reports such as water clarity and the presence of harmful cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms. The information is entered in an online form where it can be viewed by the community and inform individuals of rapidly changing water quality conditions. The crowdsourcing method allows Clean Lakes Alliance to efficiently gather water quality information and educate the community about the importance of clean and healthy lakes. 

 

 

The Yahara River Watershed Map.
Source: nsf.com

Madison’s waterways are comprised of five major lakes: Mendota, Monona, Wingra, Waubesa and Kegonsa. The lakes have become a major tourist destination for kayaking, boating, paddle boarding and fishing. Each year over 2,500 athletes compete in the world-famous IRONMAN swim course in Lake Monona. Being a part of a 359-square-mile watershed, the lakes are an important part of life for 370,000 people in Madison and the greater Dane County area.

If you haven’t checked the app yet, please do so before heading down to the beach this weekend. The web app is desktop and mobile friendly. LakeForecast.org features separate searching options to filter information about different beaches and lakes. You can view the nearest open beaches, featured amenities, or current water conditions so that you can plan your day accordingly. Users can also view the historical data for each beach and lake site.

“5NINES is proud to support Clean Lakes Alliance with their mission to conserve the lakes and educate its community,” says Todd Streicher, president and CEO of 5NINES.

Mobile view of the app.

 

5NINES Web Team Delivers a winner

When the project was assigned to the 5NINES web development team, they had to overcome a few challenges in order to bring the website to its full potential. First, the site was relocated to WordPress, a widely used content management system. WordPress has more editing features and is easier for site owners, like CLA, to manage. In addition, the team had to reorganize bundled scripts and recreate the backend of the app with cleaner code. New site optimizations now automate data collection and processing. The final step involved integrating the new Google Maps API on the website.

The 5NINES Web Development team was able to deliver.

 

“A Computer Science degree helped me to dig into the application,” says Tony, a 5NINES intern. “Despite the challenges, I am glad I was able to apply my knowledge and help Clean Lakes Alliance.”

The site gives real-time information about water quality conditions, previously uploaded by volunteers of Clean Lake Alliance

While the app is live and working well, there are many possibilities for future upgrades.

“5NINES is responsible for transitioning Lakeforecast.org to a more stable and user-friendly platform. By improving the website’s functionality, 5NINES is helping Clean Lakes Alliance develop a tool that can more effectively inform the community about rapidly changing water quality conditions on all five Yahara Lakes,” says Luke Wynn, Watershed Program Associate for Clean Lakes Alliance. “5NINES staff have continued to demonstrate their ability to creatively implement new ideas and respond promptly to unexpected challenges.”

“We have many ideas on improving the site presence, but mainly it is to bring more features from WordPress. We are looking forward to discussing them closely with Clean Lakes Alliance. For now, we are continuing to monitor the site daily and assist users”, commented Tony.

About the companies:

5NINES is a locally owned and privately held IT company that provides a wide range of services and solutions including traditional fiber and microwave Internet, Web Hosting and Development, Cybersecurity, Cloud Hosting, and Collocation. Founded in 2001, 5NINES became a trusted partner of many businesses and institutions in Wisconsin by delivering high level expertise, cutting edge technologies and cost-effective solutions. 5NINES’s web services include application development, data integration, analytics, e-commerce and search engine optimization.  We use the industry’s best tools like WordPress, cPanel, Linux, MySQL and Angular.

The Clean Lakes Alliance is a local non-profit organization established in 2010 with a mission to improve the water quality of the lakes, streams and wetlands of the Yahara River Watershed. “Healthy Lakes. Healthy Community” is the vision of its founders and members who strive to create a community of people, businesses and organizations dedicated to conserving the water quality for future generations. Learn more about how you can help the organization today by visiting their website www.cleanlakesalliance.org or get updates about water conditions at LakeForecast.org.