Tech world meets nature in 'hack-a-thon' to clean-up Indian River Lagoon

Could the answers to Brevard County’s Indian River woes lie in the computer world?   Some local tech pros are ready to give it a shot.

Starting Friday evening, tech experts from across Central Florida plan to join forces with nature experts for a hack-a-thon over the Indian River Lagoon.  They aren’t talking hacking like you see in the movies, breaking into mainframes and such. Think of this as “hacking” new ideas, or brainstorming toward a common goal.

"Biologists, experts in water quality, experts in coding and engineering and artists,” said volunteer Keith Nugent. "To be able to hopefully make a change is kind of exciting."

Nugent and his fellow collaborators will work at the event all weekend at their Groundswell Startups co-working space in Melbourne. Participants will eat there, sleep there, and focus on the common goal there from Friday evening through Sunday evening.  That goal: that river that runs right across the street from Groundswell.

"You'll smell it at times depending on if there's a [sic] algal bloom or something going on,” said Nugent.

The issues in the lagoon have been ongoing for Brevard County residents. Foul smells, dead fish, and murky waters. Combinations of pollution, algae blooms, and other factors creating a mess in the waterway.

To make things worse, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission recently discovered pockets of red tide in the IRL flowing in from the ocean.

Nugent and his fellow “hackers” hope to combine all of the different expertise that will be there over the weekend to find new ideas to help the lagoon. Volunteers say that could be new technology, computer programs, education campaigns, really anything that could make a difference.

"I think there's a misconception that technology and the environment are on the opposite ends of the spectrum and they don't go together,” said Nugent adding that they hope to challenge that thought surprise people this weekend.

More information can be found here.