Today’s Solutions: May 20, 2022

A couple of months ago, we wrote about a remarkable online “fish doorbell” or visdeurbel that allows spawning fish to swim through the canals of Utrecht in the Netherlands unobstructed by the Weerdsluis lock.

The system is comprised of an internet-connected underwater camera located next to the lock gate. Members of the public can view the camera’s live feed (some stills from this feed are featured in the photo above) through an app at any time, and if users notice that there are several fish outside the gate, they can notify the lock operator by ringing a digital doorbell on the app. The operator then confirms whether there are indeed a number of fish present and will manually open the gate to let them pass.

Mark van Heukelum, the Dutch ecologist who came up with the clever design, was happy to report that the response to the doorbell was immediate and spread far wider than just Utrecht or even the Netherlands. Within two weeks, 735,000 people from all over the world including Canada, Germany, Spain, and Taiwan had visited the website and the doorbell had been rung over 32,000 times.

Van Heukelum reports that he “was jumping in [his] living room,” when he realized how well the public was responding. “Of course we hoped that there would be attention and we were sure that at least in Utrecht people would be interested in the project, but before we knew it, it really took off.”

In fact, so many people rang the doorbell that the lock manager had to establish a regular schedule of opening the lock once in the morning and once in the evening, and another time throughout the day whenever there were larger fish gatherings present.

The doorbell’s initial function is working splendidly, but there are other benefits to this design as well. Now, researchers can gather data on Utrecht’s fish population and can conclude that the canal is an important migration route. The Utrecht municipality also confirmed, through the appearance of eel and ide river fish, that the Utrecht canals certainly connect the Vecht and Kromme Rijn and are part of a river system. In addition, the camera and doorbell highlight the often-forgotten presence of underwater nature in the canals that run through Utrecht and in other cities.

Many who live in these cities get accustomed to seeing canals only as historical monuments or convenient routes for boats to pass, but it’s important to remind people of their connection to different rivers and of the biodiversity that depends on them.

For now, the doorbell isn’t in service because the lock has returned to being opened regularly for the summer months. The municipality of Utrecht reports that the bell was rung over 100,000 times since its installment at the end of March 2021, and has stated that it will be back in use in 2022.

Source Image: Visdeurbel.nl

Solutions News Source Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Architects redesign their industry labor model

The architecture profession is often glamorized as a creative and lucrative job where individual designers get their names tied to monumental construction projects. The truth is that an individual’s effort, even their whole team’s collaborative ... Read More

Meet the animals that refused to go extinct

May 20th marks the 17th annual Endangered Species Day. Every year, thousands of people around the world join together in taking action to protect and celebrate endangered or threatened species. In solidarity with the lives ... Read More

US trucking shortages might be at an end

Right now, economists, workers, and consumers alike are all holding their breath with the looming potential of a recession. It’s a lot to mentally wrangle with while we all look at various economic indicators and ... Read More

“Dramatic” success in clinical trials of novel asthma treatment

According to the AAFA, around 25 million people in the U.S. have asthma, about one in every 13 people. This long-term disease causes swelling and inflammation of the airways, resulting in restriction and discomfort when ... Read More

UK-based walking group makes strides in men’s mental health

Of course, it’s never advisable to generalize, in this case, however, the evidence demonstrates that men are notoriously difficult to serve when it comes to mental health support.  With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, ... Read More

4 fascinating facts about bees to celebrate Bee Day

May 20th is Bee Day! So, to celebrate our fabulous pollinating friends, here are four facts that go beyond their all-important role in plant cross-fertilization. Females are the future Female bees have different jobs depending ... Read More