I've been living in New York City for two months now and "clean and swimmable" are not the first adjectives that come to my mind when people mention New York City's urban rivers. This is because New Yorkers are no strangers to the mounds of black trash bags piled on sidewalks outside brownstone residents, local businesses, and high-rise offices. And I can't help but wonder what percentage of the over 12,000 tons of waste the city produces daily ends up in the nearby waterways. However, a new public art installation, +POOL Light, intends to change the mind of New Yorkers like myself and raise awareness of the current state of our rivers.
+POOL Light, designed by PLAYLAB INC. and Family New York - in collaboration with Floating Point, is a giant 50 foot by 50 foot plus sign that is currently located at Seaport District at Pier 17 in Lower Manhattan. This art installation is wrapped in LEDs and various sensors that measure water qualities like temperature, turbidity, salinity, and pathogens to tell the public whether the water is safe to swim in or not. It quickly displays this to nearby viewers by changing the colors of his surrounding LEDs: turning pink to indicate that the water is not currently safe to swim in, or blue to indicate that the water is currently safe to swim in. You can also monitor the water quality of Pier 17 by checking out the +POOL Light project's webpage.
The individuals behind +POOL Light understand that water quality information can be pretty difficult to understand and quickly digest, so they created an intuitive dashboard to explain what all their data actually means. The webpage, water.pool.org, gives an hourly report on how safe it is to swim in the water nearby the +Pool Light art installation while further breaking down the data from the variables it collects to explain to the public how each variable impacts the "swimabiltiy" metric.
+Pool Light is an informative project that is helping drive a conversation towards solving environmental problems, waste management, and public health issues in New York City. It's already having me thinking differently about New York City water, and may have me start swimming to work as early as this next summer. Make sure to follow this project as it evolves by checking out the +Pool Twitter account.