|Stormwater management is one of the most pressing urban environmental issues in the developed world. In the US alone, we discharge over 900 billion gallons of raw sewage into natural bodies every year due to combined sewer overflows. In addition, stormwater runoff can carry pollutants from urban and agricultural land into natural water bodies, resulting in eutrophication. Furthermore, due to urbanization, stormwater often flows too quickly into local water bodies, stirring up sediment and wreaking havoc on local species.
These issues, and others, are consequences of the timing and flow rate of stormwater release. Opti automatically controls when and how fast stormwater flows. This simple intervention can have a massive impact on the health of our water ecosystem.
Opti started in 2007, when we needed a better way to manage the water flowing in and out of a salt marsh in the Northeast. To solve this problem, we embedded a web server on a control board and integrated internet-based information into the logic for a pneumatic valve to manage the inflow and outflow from a salt marsh. It worked. The system achieved the goals of the NOAA funded research project, and it improved the health of the salt marsh.
We realized then that the integration of on-site sensor and weather forecast information into control logic of distributed systems had broad applications for improving the performance of engineered environmental systems. But doing so safely at a citywide scale, would require us to adopt new approaches to infrastructure specification, information management, network communications, and software development. We began, and continue to develop, the platform we now know as Opti on the Microsoft Azure cloud because it continues to lead the way in robust, redundant, and secure cloud platforms.
Along the way, we collected a strong group of partners, completed a three-year WERF research study, patented some of our algorithms, and deployed projects throughout the US. We were growing quickly, and the need was greater than we could handle inside Geosyntec Consultants. We forged a partnership with MissionPoint Partners and in 2014 struck out as an independent company to focus our efforts where our platform could make the highest impact - optimizing stormwater management.