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Nutrient Sensor Action Challenge Stage II

About the Challenge
Empower real-time nutrient data to transform decision-making.

Posted By: Environmental Protection Agency
Category: Scientific/Engineering
Skill: Scientific Interest: Science & Research Partnership With: United States Geological Survey
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Department of Agriculture
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Submission Dates: 12 a.m. ET, Mar 01, 2018 - 11:59 p.m. ET, Jan 31, 2019

Click here to view the full informational webinar from March 15th.

 

EPA, in collaboration with other agencies, is seeking demonstrations of the use of data and information from nutrient sensors to inform decisions and actions that address nutrient management.  The total prize amount for this Challenge is $100,000; up to two winning teams will share the prize.  This is Stage II of the Challenge; Stage I was a call for action plans, which was completed September 2017.


THE CHALLENGE

Excess nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) in the nation’s waters is one of the costliest and most challenging environmental problems we face.  Over the last 50 years, the amount of nutrients entering into our waters has escalated, and is now one of the top causes of water quality impairment. Protecting human health and the environment from adverse impacts of excessive nutrients is a national priority.

Many organizations and communities are interested in making use of sensors to provide improved spatial and temporal data that can help inform decisions and actions to protect and restore our nation’s water resources.

This Challenge calls for teams to design and implement an approach that utilizes nutrient sensors and resulting data to improve decisions and actions resulting in more effective nutrient management.


ELIGIBILITY

The Nutrient Sensor Action Challenge is open to communities, tribes, states and other organizations in the United States interested in deploying nutrient sensors to address an important nutrient-related water quality issue.

Organizations should be currently engaged in water quality monitoring and have some level of experience using sensors, managing data, and communicating that information.

Participation in Stage I of the Challenge is not a requirement for participation in Stage II.


SCHEDULE

 


REQUIREMENTS

Registration

  • Teams must complete the registration form, found here, and upload via the Challenge.gov “Submit Solution” tab two weeks prior to the start of monitoring and data collection from nutrient sensors.

Sensors

  • Teams must acquire monitoring data from two or more nitrogen or phosphorous sensors for at least three months between March 1 and December 31, 2018.  At least one sensor must cost less than $15,000.

Data Collection and Access

  • Projects will be requested via email to share web service endpoint(s) and associated authentication information. Data must be made available by November 1st, 2018 and remain available to the Challenge Administrator until judging is complete (Spring 2019).
  • Teams must make observation data available to the Challenge Administrator in one of the following formats:


RESULTS PACKAGE

All materials must be uploaded to Challenge.gov “Submit Solution” tab.  Materials submitted via regular mail, facsimile, or email will not be accepted.  No additions or modifications to the uploaded submissions will be accepted after the deadline.  Participants are encouraged to include hyperlinks and access instructions to external websites.  If a website(s) is part of a larger solution offered, participants should provide specific information in the document that indicates which parts of the website relate to the Challenge.

Each team must upload a Results Package that will be provided to the judges.  The Results Package must be uploaded to Challenge.gov by January 31, 2019 at 11:59 PM ET.   The Results Package must be no longer than 30 pages and must include (but is not limited to):

Updated Registration Information (found here)

Data:

  • Illustration of the data architecture, including the flow and lifecycle of sensor data (e.g. collection, access, communication, and use)
  • Summary of the data collected from the sensor and results from analytics or model output

Potential Impact:

  • Describe the potential impact of the contribution of continuous sensor data and how it has or will inform and improve a decision or action to improve nutrient management.
  • Describe engagement with users, stakeholders and decision-makers and how their role and participation contribute to the impact of the project.

Quality Assurance and Quality Control: 

  • Describe how quality assurance and quality control was addressed throughout the project.

JUDGING CRITERIA

Sensors and Monitoring

The extent to which the project monitoring design, sensor data collection, and analytics are appropriate and effective to inform the decision or action pertaining to the identified nutrient issue.

Data Collection and Access

  • The extent to which the project meets Challenge requirements pertaining to data standards and data access.

Potential Impact

  • The extent to which the project demonstrates an important impact or benefit of sensor data to inform a decision or action pertaining to nutrient management.

COLLABORATING AGENCIES AND ORGANIZATIONS

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
  • NOAA-directed U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST)
  • Cleveland Water Alliance (CWA)

 

 


POWERPOINTS AND WEBINARS


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • Is participation in Stage I a prerequisite for participating in Stage II?
    • No. Teams are invited to participate in Stage II, even if they did not participate in Stage I.
  • What is the Challenge?
    • The Nutrient Sensor Action Challenge seeks breakthroughs and innovative solutions that demonstrate how nutrient sensor information can be translated into knowledge to support decisions and actions pertaining to a nutrient-related topic or problem.
  • Which nutrients are within the scope of the Challenge?
    • Nitrogen and Phosphorous
  • Who is eligible to participate?
    • The Challenge is open to companies, organizations, and/or communities interested in deploying two or more nutrient monitoring sensors (one of which has a purchase price that does not exceed $15,000) to address an important nutrient-related topic or problem. Participants should be currently engaged in water quality monitoring and have some level of sophistication with water monitoring, data management, and communication.   Team leads must be United States citizens.
  • Is there any assistance in helping match organizations into teams?
    • There is not a formal process for assisting in team development.  A list of past Challenge participants, including sensors development, upon request.  Teams may post their interest and needs in the “Discussions” tab on the Challenge.gov page and the information can be shared in the Challenge newsletter
  • Is the focus of this Challenge non-point sources of nutrients, or can wastewater treatment plants participate as well?
    • The focus of the Challenge is not restricted to non-point sources.  Wastewater treatment plants as well as other companies, organizations, and/or communities interested in address an important nutrient-related topic or problem are also encouraged to participate.
  • How long is the Challenge open?
    • Data collection is open from March 1, 2018 – December 31, 2018; participants have flexibility to determine the 3-month window during which they will monitor and collect data. Data must be made available via web services by November 1st, 2018 and remain available to the Challenge Administrator until judging is complete (Spring 2019).
  • How should interruptions for maintenance, repairs, etc. be reported and accounted for?
    • Interruptions are understandably going to occur. Please describe anticipated interruptions to the best of your ability when submitting the registration form. Interruptions should also be noted in the final results package.
  • What are the price constraints for the sensors?
    • The purchase price of at least one of the sensors used should not exceed $15,000.  This price constraint applies only to the sensor itself; it does not include other deployment costs such as communications, batteries, cables, etc.
  • If a sensor were to be provided to a team free of charge, how should the price of the sensor be reported?
    • Verification/validation that the sale price of the sensor not exceeding $15,000 should be provided.
  • Is there financial assistance for purchasing sensors?
    • There is not any financial assistance for sensor procurement.  However, sensor manufacturers may be willing to loan sensors for the purpose of piloting.
  • Is there a minimum/maximum requirement regarding the number of sensors?
    • Solvers must submit plans to deploy 2 or more sensors; one of which should have a purchase price that does not exceed $15,000. There is no maximum limit of sensors.
  • Do sensors need to be acquired from U.S.-based organizations/companies?
    • No.
  • Does this program recommend or endorse a particular sensor or brand?
  • Where can I find information about the data and interface standards?
  • Are there any useful references for doing QA/QC
    • Listed below are some useful examples of QA/QC protocols.

 

  • Will judges need to have real-time access to the data?
    • Data needs to be made available to the Challenge Administrators by November 1, 2018.  The Challenge requires data to be made available in interoperable way, meaning the judges can access and see the data via web services. A data ‘download’ will not be accepted at the end.  Teams must set up their data system in such a way that the data will be shareable in a standard format over standard communication protocols. A goal of this challenge is to promote standard ways of sharing and formatting sensor data to encourage interoperability and sharing of water monitoring data. See Challenge language for data standards accepted by the Challenge judges.
  • When will awards be made?
    • Spring 2019
  • Who are the partners in the Challenge?
    • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
    • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
    • NOAA-directed U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS)
    • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
    • National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST)
    • Cleveland Water Alliance (CWA)
  • Are slides from previous webinars available?
    • Slides from previous webinars have been posted to Challenge.gov
  • How can I be added to the e-newsletter distribution list?
    • All teams that register will be signed up automatically for the newsletter.  For individuals not participating that would like to be added to the distribution list, email the request to Denice Shaw, Shaw.Denice@epa.gov
  • Who can I contact if I have questions?
    • Please direct any requests for clarifications and additional information about this Challenge to Denice Shaw, Shaw.Denice@epa.gov

6 Discussions for "Nutrient Sensor Action Challenge Stage II"

  • Show Replies [+]
    Anna Schroeder
    I'm having trouble opening the terms and conditions file on the submit solution tab. I work for a municipality and must run them by the city attorney prior to participating in the challenge.

    • Reply
      mgriesinger
      Participants must certify they do not have identical or essentially equivalent work currently funded by a Federal agency. Federal employees acting within the scope of their employment are not eligible to participate. A Federal employee acting outside the scope of his or her employment should consult his or her ethics official before participating in the Challenge. Federal grantees may not use federal funds to develop challenge applications unless consistent with the purpose of their grant award. Federal contractors may not use federal funds from a contract to develop challenge applications or to fund efforts in support of a challenge submission without written approval of their federal government sponsor. To receive a prize, the Solvers will not have to transfer their IP rights. Written submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on January 31, 2019. Late written submissions will not be considered. By participating in the competition, each entrant agrees to follow all applicable local, state, federal and country of residence laws and regulations.

    • Reply
      mgriesinger
      You are correct, price limit and adherence to OGC standards are both requirements and there is not an equipment list.

  • Show Replies [+]
    We are evaluating different sensors, and need to get an order submitted as soon as possible to cue up our summer monitoring. We have actually been waiting to order equipment until we had a better sense of what the rules for the challenge would be. I was hoping you could clarify a few points: (1) The challenge requires that at least one nutrient sensor cost less than $15,000. As we've been looking at alternative technologies, we've noted that the sensor itself is only a part of the cost of a deployed sensor system. Full costs include things like solar panels, batteries, communications, security, cables, sometime sales taxes, training, etc. Can you confirm that the limitation on cost applies only to the sensor itself, and not the to the total cost of deployment? If we need to keep total deployed costs below $15,000, that would affect our equipment choices. (2) How would we document that a sensor that is being provided free of charge by a project partner meets the cost criterion? (3) The announcement specifies that we must "acquire monitoring data from two or more nitrogen or phosphorous sensors for at least three months between March 1 and November 1, 2018." There is no discussion of data collection frequency or interruptions in data collection. Our present deployment plan involves periodic short term (~ 24 hour) interruptions in data collection to facilitate equipment maintenance, calibration, and data QA/QC. Before we deploy, we want to confirm that such interruptions are acceptable, and that they would have no effect on the length of the required period of deployment.

    • Reply
      mgriesinger
      Curtis, Thanks for your questions. 1). Correct, the limitation on applies only to the sensor itself. 2). Please provide verification/validation that the sales price of the sensor does not exceed $15,000. 3). Interruptions are understandably going to occur. Please specify the anticipated interruptions to the best of your ability when your submit your registration form. They should also be noted in your final results package. Thanks, and please let us know if you have any further questions. Mark Griesinger

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Rules

REQUIREMENTS

Registration

  • Teams must complete the registration form, found here, and upload via the Challenge.gov “Submit Solution” tab two weeks prior to the start of monitoring and data collection from nutrient sensors.

Sensors

  • Teams must acquire monitoring data from two or more nitrogen or phosphorous sensors for at least three months between March 1 and December 31, 2018.  At least one sensor must cost less than $15,000.

Data Collection and Access

  • Projects will be requested via email to share web service endpoint(s) and associated authentication information. Data must be made available by November 1st, 2018 and remain available to the Challenge Administrator until judging is complete (Spring 2019).
  • Teams must make observation data available to the Challenge Administrator in one of the following formats:

RESULTS PACKAGE

All materials must be uploaded to Challenge.gov “Submit Solution” tab.  Materials submitted via regular mail, facsimile, or email will not be accepted.  No additions or modifications to the uploaded submissions will be accepted after the deadline.  Participants are encouraged to include hyperlinks and access instructions to external websites.  If a website(s) is part of a larger solution offered, participants should provide specific information in the document that indicates which parts of the website relate to the Challenge.

Each team must upload a Results Package that will be provided to the judges.  The Results Package must be uploaded to Challenge.gov by January 31, 2019 at 11:59 PM ET.   The Results Package must be no longer than 30 pages and must include (but is not limited to):

Updated Registration Information (found here)

Data:

  • Illustration of the data architecture, including the flow and lifecycle of sensor data (e.g. collection, access, communication, and use)
  • Summary of the data collected from the sensor and results from analytics or model output

Potential Impact:

  • Describe the potential impact of the contribution of continuous sensor data and how it has or will inform and improve a decision or action to improve nutrient management.
  • Describe engagement with users, stakeholders and decision-makers and how their role and participation contribute to the impact of the project.

Quality Assurance and Quality Control: 

  • Describe how quality assurance and quality control was addressed throughout the project.
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