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Innovate!’s Partnerships with EPA and Kamilo contribute to World Oceans Day and Month


National Oceans Month was conceptualized to recognize our connection to the ocean and to raise awareness about the dangers it faces. In 1992, the United Nations General Assembly designated June 8 as World Oceans Day. Since 2002, The Ocean Project has coordinated World Ocean Day globally. Innovate! Inc. (Innovate) knows it is imperative to take necessary action to treat our ocean’s resources with respect in order to protect the foods and medicines sourced, keep in mind future generations who will need the ocean to live a prosperous life, and keep the climate in check.

Here are a couple of highlights of how Innovate protects, contributes, and expands our oceans’ longevity.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds (OWOW) Offshore Marine Debris Survey (OMDS)

Bodies of water have historically been dumping grounds for human-made debris. Rarely can a person visit a stream, lake, river, estuary, or ocean and fail to observe some form of trash. This debris originates from many activities but is generally categorized as coming from land- or ocean/inland waterway-based sources. Regardless of its origin, however, marine debris impacts human health and safety; poses an entanglement or ingestion threat to wildlife; and degrades critical habitats.

Within the EPA’s Office of Water (OW), the Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds (OWOW) wanted to develop a standardized methodology for the separation and identification of plastic particle pollution in the water column and in sediment samples. For the Offshore Marine Debris Survey (OMDS), Innovate staff provides expert-level consultation for GIS and remote sensing. Our work is part of a pilot evaluation of sensors and platforms that can identify particle pollution to ensure safe water.

Our team is purposefully fulfilled with tasks including atmospheric correction of multispectral imagery, producing bathymetry and chlorophyll images, and researching the potential to identify plastic with remotely sensed imagery. There are many levels of uncertainty that are being accounted for in the algorithms used to determine bathymetry and chlorophyll and Innovate is quantifying uncertainty and identifying limitations in the multispectral imagery for the remote sensing of plastic pollution. The end products will inform the sampling design for EPA’s Environmental Response Team’s (ERT) field monitoring and sampling efforts in French Frigate Shoals. Our coordinated effort with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Coast Guard aims to better understand the quantity, distribution, and behavior of plastic particles within the water column and in coastal environments.

Kamilo

The presence of plastics in the world’s water systems is a critical environmental and health crisis. They cause pollution by entering natural ecosystems from a variety of sources, including cosmetics, clothing, and industrial processes. Compounding the threat of plastics is inefficiencies in current recycling practices. Our current model for recycling relies on consumers to recycle. According to the EPA, Americans generate more than 267 million tons of solid waste every year. In 2017, only 94.2 million tons (35%) of that waste was either recycled or composted and only 8% of discarded plastics were recycled that year.

Kamilo, a Public Benefit Corporation dedicated to the reduction of global plastic waste, has partnered with Innovate to track the journey of plastic from waste to a recycled product. Kamilo ensures that the plastic they track is actually recycled/reused. Leveraging the power of geographic information system (GIS), Kamilo creates a verifiable link between plastic recovered and its actual reuse through global supply chain tracking. This model provides businesses that sell recyclable plastic (e.g., bottles) a way to guarantee that their plastic output is matched to recycled material via real-time geospatial verification of the source and successful recovery. This innovative technology brings much-needed transparency and accountability to the global plastics supply chain and recycled plastics markets.

Innovate is helping Kamilo’s data be transparent and verifiable by storing their data in a ledger database that provides an immutable and cryptographically verifiable transaction log. This blockchain-like data model ensures indisputable evidence that the plastic asset existed and is tracked to its final resting place. This is a unique solution because it merges GIS data with a blockchain-like data model.

Innovate staff also customized and extended Esri’s Survey123 application to allow Bluetooth device scanning for asset chain of custody tracking. As an asset moves from place to place, end users can scan for Bluetooth devices within reach and capture their unique IDs. The results are submitted to a database and mapped for viewing in the office.

No matter where we live, the ocean belongs to all of us. Innovate is one of many global contributors committed to our environment.

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