Smart Great Lakes


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Advancing technology applications that improve our understanding, use, conservation, and management of the Great Lakes.

Watch the virtual workshop | Smart Great Lakes Initiative

people and servers

Photo credit: Buoy photo by Ed Verhamme, Limnotech

The Problem

For the past several decades, scientists, citizens, and policy makers have worked creatively to address Great Lakes challenges including the spread of invasive species, aging water infrastructure, and a changing economy and climate. Today, the Great Lakes region continues to work towards greater collaboration and a better understanding of the lakes. It is now understood that a connected information ecosystem could help address a broad variety of challenges currently facing the region.

The traditional approach to problem solving has been limited by single use, disposable data, the high cost of technology, and barriers to data sharing. Fortunately, there has been a shift in the technology landscape making it easier and faster than ever before to access valuable, accurate information in a timely manner. Dramatic advances in smart technologies, communication pathways, processing workflows, and information dissemination further enable “smart,” information-driven solutions.

A Solution

The Smart Great Lakes Initiative (SGLi) is working to build an information ecosystem based on smart technologies that improve the understanding, use, and management of the lakes. This ecosystem will connect the region with advanced data management and analysis, leveraging technology innovations that get people more high-value information, on demand.

Smart Great Lakes is about improving the way people learn about and respond to lake events, informing critical policy, and directing future science and innovation.

A binational, collaborative effort including private industry, state, provincial, federal, tribal, academic, and non-profit partners and stakeholders, the Smart Great Lakes Initiative will work to identify and meet the information needs of the region’s policy makers, municipal and natural resource managers, and recreational users, among others.

Making the Great Lakes smart requires coupling the development of a new technology platform with the creation of common policy goals to enable technology innovation, data gathering, improved monitoring, and greater binational collaboration. Far from being a single-sector solution, the SGLi has the ability to help address information needs basin-wide.

Smart Great Lakes is currently supported by:

Statements of support

“We’re proud our work towards a smart and connected Lake Erie has inspired the vision for Smart Great Lakes. We look forward to continuing to partner with GLOS to see this take shape.”

-Bryan Stubbs, Executive Director of Cleveland Water Alliance

“The protection and sustainable development of the basin requires intimate knowledge about how socioeconomic activities impact the health of the entire watershed. The council is proud to support and develop the Smart Great Lakes Initiative so that policymakers, scientists, and businesses can make better decisions.”

-Mark Fisher, President and CEO of the binational Council of the Great Lakes Region.

“Making our data public through GLOS means easy collaboration with other researchers and easy access for whomever else out there might find it useful. Calling the research community to start doing this on a larger scale will be huge.”

-Aaron Fisk, GLOS Board Member and professor at the University of Windsor

“When you look at the binational challenges we, as a region, are looking to solve and the technology that GLOS has the capability to leverage, this is a natural, and, frankly, very exciting next step for the organization.”

-Jennifer Boehme, GLOS Board Chair and International Joint Commission Environmental Scientist

“I’m very eager to see what this initiative will mean for Great Lakes fisheries. Better sharing the information we have as a region would greatly help the GLFC and our partner agencies make management decisions.”

-Bob Lambe, GLOS board member and Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) Executive Secretary.


January 6, 2021: Opportunity for mini-grants announced

August 10, 2020: SGLi Leadership Team Announced [Article]

July 27, 2020: SGLi Leadership Team Meets for the First Time

April 21, 2020: SGLi Leadership hosts virtual workshop alongside Current

Dec. 6, 2019: GLOS and partners publish paper in Frontiers in Marine Science on making Lake Erie smart

Dec. 5, 2019: Smart Great Lakes Initiative gains momentum at Toronto meeting

Oct. 21, 2019: Great Lakes Observing System Launches the Smart Great Lakes Initiative [Press Release]


SGL Initiative Factsheet – PDF

GLOS Strategic Plan 2020-2025: Smart Great Lakes – PDF

Watch the 2020-2025 strategic plan release webinar

Watch the April 2020 virtual workshop

Join in! Three ways to support the SGLi: 

  • Bring fresh ideas
  • Deploy smart sensors
  • Become a collaborator
  • Help draft the common strategy document

Start by getting in touch.

Email Katie Rousseau, Smart Great Lakes Liaison, at

What is the Smart Great Lakes Initiative?

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