Technical Integrity / Collaboration / Exceptional Results

Integral Manages Data for Ferry-Based Monitoring of Water Quality

Integral scientists are assisting the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) and the Applied Physics Laboratory of the University of Washington with an innovative research project designed to monitor and understand water quality throughout Puget Sound. Called “Ferries for Science,” the project features the collection of water quality data using instruments placed on ferry boats, which cross the sound on a daily basis. In addition to carrying passengers, several ferries are now collecting a wealth of information related to surface-to-bottom water mass movements, algae blooms, patterns of river discharge, near-surface temperature, and salinity. Combined with satellite imagery and other information sources, the ferry data will ultimately be used to help scientists measure the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification in Puget Sound.

Integral Ocean Scientist Brandon Sackmann, Ph.D., has been heading the data management effort for this large multi-agency, collaborative project. Integral is leveraging cloud-based computing resources to retrieve data from multiple vessels and is developing computer code to provide data processing and data management support. Technology Specialist Neil Simon of Integral is also providing assistance.

Washington State operates one of the largest networks of ferries in the world. According to Sackmann, the project represents a novel and cost-effective way to acquire data that users can access on a near real-time basis. Integral is actively working on a comprehensive remote data acquisition and dissemination system that will be capable of retrieving, processing, and serving data through a variety of web services and user interfaces. The completed system will be a unique combination of custom software, developed specifically for the project, and open source and public domain tools that help organize and distribute these large data sets to end users. Integral’s project role draws on the firm’s expertise in oceanography, scientific data programming, data management, and satellite image processing.

Ecology recently issued a news release on the project, which began with the Victoria Clipper ferry and is now being extended to other ferries in Puget Sound, including the Washington State Department of Transportation Salish ferry that runs between Port Townsend and Coupeville.

Read Ecology News Release (

For more information on Integral’s role on this project, contact Brandon Sackmann at

Read more details on this project at

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