CyanoLakes (Pty) Ltd was founded in February 2015 by Mark Matthews after he won the Copernicus Masters Ideas Challenge for applications using satellites. During his PhD, Mark invented an algorithm that could distinguish between cyanobacteria and algae that was recognised as a breakthrough in research and innovation, and also solved many of the challenges associated with using satellite remotely sensed data for routine monitoring applications. Mark saw that the vast quantity of satellite data being routinely acquired was largely unused, and could be exploited for wide-scale operational monitoring of lakes.
Equipped with his new algorithm, Mark envisaged a online information service providing daily warnings to the public of the risks to human health from cyanobacteria blooms. This would enable water and health authorities an unprecedented ability to monitor in near real-time for cyanobacteria and algal blooms, and simultaneously empower the general public to make informed decisions to protect them from the adverse effects of cyanobacteria.
Work began on a prototype for South Africa in 2015 following the awarding of a research grant to CyanoLakes (Pty) Ltd by the Water Research Commission. The prototype, dubbed the “Earth Observation National Eutrophication Monitoring Programme”, was built around the needs of the South African Department of Water and Sanitation, who became the first user, using the information to fill gaps in their monitoring database and for reporting. The prototype began with daily updates in January 2017 following the public release of data from the newly launched Sentinel-3 satellite.
The service was made available to the commercial market under the CyanoLakes RealTime brand in the third quarter of 2017.
Along the way, CyanoLakes (Pty) Ltd has also provided commercial solutions to water engineering firms, environmental scientists and academics and researchers.