The Boston Sun reports on a pilot project by the Boston Groundwater Trust to use Bluetooth-enabled well caps and a mobile app to better monitor the levels of groundwater that keep the wooden pilings that support hundreds of buildings in the Back Bay, the South End, the Fenway and Beacon Hill from collapsing.
Many of the homes (and some larger structures, such as Trinity Church) in those neighborhoods sit on wooden pilings that have to be kept wet to keep them from being attacked by wood-munching microorganisms. In the LightWell project, the trust is installing special well caps that will update the water levels in the wells they cover once an hour - and let people with the app on their phones collect the data:
Digitally fabricated out of translucent Corian, the new well caps will house LED lights and a microcontroller that is connected to a depth sensor 30 feet below grade. The sensor will be reading and logging groundwater continuously. Every hour, it will provide a reading with a scrolling message by an LED matrix. Users will be able to use the free mobile app to get the reading and push it to an cloud storage database. This leverages the public's mobile phones to crowd-source the real-time data, turning their devices into tools of citizen science.
For now, the caps will be rotated among several blocks in the neighborhoods.