MOBI signs-on to protect Reef

A cartoon mudskipper named Mobi will encourage the next generation of Reef Guardians to continue the work of a pilot project which aims to protect the Great Barrier Reef Lagoon from urban stormwater run-off.

Mobi the Mudskipper is the lead character in a series of free online education tools, initially developed by James Cook University IT students as part of a work placement at Council with the Smart Catchments: Saltwater Creek, Smart Cities and Suburbs project.

‘Mobi’s Catchment Challenge’ will be presented at the 2019 Cairns Reef Guardian Networking Meeting at Council today.
Year 5 students from Edge Hill State School were instrumental in testing the initial Mobi's Catchment Challenge online tools developed by JCU students.

The project between Cairns Regional Council, James Cook University, Wet Tropics Healthy Waterways and Itron Australasia, commenced late 2017. Using smart sensors, cameras and a gauging station the quality of water flowing through one of Cairns’ major urban catchments, Saltwater Creek, is continually monitored and data is accessible in real-time via Council’s website.

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said it was great to see a SMART and innovative pilot project like this come to fruition and continue to benefit Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef.

“This project was a truly collaborative effort, between different levels of governments, education, industry and the community,” he said.

“This study encourages residents to identify how they can avoid and reduce pollutants entering waterways and take actions that support sustainable, healthy water in our region and reduce any environmental impacts on the Great Barrier Reef.”

“Everyone benefits from these type of projects,” Cr Manning said.

“Council will use the data to improve our own infrastructure and ensure we are true to our title as a Reef Guardian Council. With Mobi’s help, students will learn how to protect the environment by being hands-on crusaders.”

Information Technology lecturer Dr Jason Holdsworth said the project had given many JCU IT students invaluable real-world experience.

“The Mobi project began after Council staff attended our annual Design Sprint, where students pitch innovative solutions to important issues such as protecting the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.

Some IT students then undertook internships with Council, refining and testing their educational game prototypes at schools within the Saltwater creek catchment.

“We’re proud that TensorWorks, a local company set up by recent JCU IT graduates, did the final production work to make Mobi the adventurous mudskipper a reality,” Dr Holdsworth said.

“We wish Mobi luck as she works to protect her Saltwater Creek home, and we look forward to collaborating with Council on future SMART projects.”

The $1.66 million project was funded 50 per cent by the Australian Government, with the four partner organisations providing the balance of funds.

To view more on the Smart Catchment: Saltwater Creek project visit Council’s website, http://bit.ly/2PdU5KA.

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