Chicago Park District

The Chicago Park district is one of the largest municipal park managers in the nation with 8,100 acres of green space spread across 580 different parks. It also manages many indoor facilities, historical landmarks, and beaches. Eight of Chicago’s most popular beaches have weather stations or water quality buoys monitoring environmental conditions around the clock. These monitoring locations are all interconnected and push data up to WQData LIVE, forming a very large and important data monitoring network.

This project includes six water quality buoys, each one off the coast of a different beach. These buoys record water temperature, water depth, and wave data. All of the buoys are NexSens MB-100 water quality buoys. These are the equivalent of the CB-50 in NexSens’ new line of data buoys. There are also three weather stations mounted atop light poles near the beaches. These stations record solar radiation, wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and rain fall. Two of the stations are Lufft WS600 weather stations and the third station is a Vaisala WXT520 weather station.


The buoys and weather stations combine to paint a good picture of what water and weather conditions are like across Chicago’s beaches at any point in time. However, that is not the only thing the data are used for. The Chicago park district goes another step further and has an E. coli model that the data are run through. Using the weather and water data, the model can accurately determine what the risk is for E. coli under the current conditions. This helps the park district provide advanced warning to beachgoers and allows them to shut down the beaches if the risk is too high.

All of these data, including the E. coli model, are managed by WQData LIVE and can be accessed by the public in the project’s WQData LIVE online public portal or through the LIVE Datacenter mobile app. The park district also maintains a website with information on the beaches and presents the environmental data and E. coli risk levels for all of Chicago’s beaches:


Featured Image Credit: Doug Nguyen

About Philip Flynn

Philip is a software engineer at NexSens Technology, Inc. He studied computer science and geology at The University of Dayton and is now NexSens' lead mobile app developer and product manager of WQData LIVE. He is the head writer for the Better Data Blog and has a passion for new technology.

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