A NEW project using artificial intelligence technology to protect the water ecosystem in Poole Harbour has been announced.

This pilot scheme will start at Poole Park's lake, which is connected by a sluice channel to the harbour, before launching in the harbour as a whole.

It will work by utilising data from a network of water quality sensors, continually monitored in real time by artificial intelligence analysis.

Backed by BCP Council, the know how comes from the firm UnifAI Technology Ltd, which is providing the equipment.

What is hoped is the scheme will make it easier to monitor, protect and ultimately improve the harbour's water ecosystem.

Cllr Felicty Rice, BCP environment member, said: "It is great to be working with partners through this pilot to help to protect our special harbour ecosystem.

"Poole Harbour is treasured by everyone that lives and visits Poole.

"Unfortunately, there are many factors affecting the wildlife and plants in the harbour. For example, tyre dust from cars and lorries gets washed into the water, along with products used in the farming industry, and even the medications that we use ourselves (such as anti-depressants, contraceptive pills and diabetic medication) can end up in the water course system – so we are really keen to understand how we can best preserve this amazing natural feature which is right on our doorstep."

Data collected will help better understand, manage and predict events such as bacterial build-up, sewage, fertiliser run-off and industrial discharges.

Poole Harbour is one of the world's largest natural harbours and has been recognised internationally as an important area for nature conservation, designated as a Special Protection Area.

UnifAI Technology chief commercial officer, and former chairman of the All Parliamentary Group for the Environment, Dan Byles, said: "We are delighted to be working with BCP Council and the Poole Harbour Commissioners on this important project.

"By helping us understanding complex systems such as the microbiome of natural water ecosystems, the right technologies can be powerful tools in ensuring we better look after the quality of our water, air and soil.

"Our goal at UnifAI Technology is to simplify the use of artificial intelligence to for real world applications such as this.”

The project will be undertaken in association with Poole Harbour Commissioners, the Environment Agency, Digital Catapult’s Things Connected Bournemouth, Southern IFCA and Barclays Eagle Labs.