MOUTH OF THE PATAPSCO RIVER, MD — Chesapeake Bay watermen have long relied on buoys to help guide them through the Bay's channels and tributaries. A unique partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Verizon Wireless is making a new generation of high-tech buoys "talk," helping even those far from the Bay's waters to experience the historic and environmental wonders of America's largest estuary.
On Thursday, July 26, the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office will deploy its third "smart buoy" as part of the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail the nation's first water-based national historic trail and newest national park. The buoy will be positioned at the mouth of the Patapsco River near Baltimore and will collect water-quality data as well as information on waves and currents via a system of sensors. That information is transmitted in real time via the Verizon Wireless, high-speed data network to websites being used for science and education. The collected data, along with historical and cultural information about the Bay, can be accessed over the Internet at www.buoybay.org or by calling (877) BUOY-BAY.
The Cheasapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System will help scientists, educators and park visitors learn more about the Bay and the importance of preserving it as a vital natural resource. Peyton Robertson, acting director of the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office said, "Verizon Wireless' technology makes it possible for the buoys to provide real-time observations to the public via the Internet. Providing current observations along with historical information will enable us to further illustrate the need for stewardship of the Bay."
The system currently consists of two other stationary buoys which are located at Point Lookout, where the Potomac River meets the Bay; and in the James River off the coast of Jamestown, Virginia, where America's first permanent English settlement was founded by Captain John Smith.
Complementing the buoy system is the Shallop, the 28-foot, open wooden vessel that replicates one used by Captain John Smith and his crew to explore and map the Chesapeake in 1608 and 1609. The Shallop and its crew of 12 set out from Jamestown on May 12, 2007 for a 121-day journey to recreate Smith's travels to virtually every Chesapeake Bay tributary. Like the smart buoys in the Cheasapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System, the Shallop has been outfitted with Verizon Wireless' high-speed broadband service which sends the data collected by its onboard water-quality monitoring system to the web for analysis and interpretation. Information about the Shallop's location is also being constantly transmitted over the Verizon Wireless network, which enables followers to track the boat's journey on the Web at www.johnsmith400.org/map.
In addition to the talking buoy technology, the Shallop crew maintains voice communications using Verizon Wireless ruggedized G'zOne phones, which are built to withstand the harshest of weather conditions and even immersion in water. The crew also uses these tough devices to capture and transmit pictures and videos to the web to share their expedition as it happens. With built-in GPS chips, the phones also provide VZ NavigatorSM service to help the crew navigate to the nearest hot shower and cold beverage whenever the Shallop makes landfall. A ruggedized computer on board connects the crew with email and Internet to the 21st century via a Verizon Wireless USB720 modem and BroadbandAccess service. Keep track of the Shallop's progress and schedule, and view photos, videos and crew journals at www.johnsmith400.org/map.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless operates the nation's most reliable wireless voice and data network, serving 62.1 million customers. The largest US wireless company and largest wireless data provider, based on revenues, Verizon Wireless is headquartered in Basking Ridge, NJ, with 67,000 employees nationwide. The company is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.