Smart Catchment

Digitising the outdoors


Below is a brief overview of our approach, if however, you want to head right into more specific information click below to jump down the page.

What Makes a Smart Catchment

Smart catchments are bodies of water that provide an overview of their condition without the need for human interaction or sampling.

This requires:

  • in-water sensors to make and transmit their readings online
  • an online dashboard to view the catchment’s current & historic condition
  • automation to streamline stakeholders’ data driven, real-world actions

What are the Benefits


A consistent, unified view of the catchment as it is now and how it has been over time.

Build insights, opinions and systems on an always up-to-date overview.


React to water events in real-time.

Unlike data loggers which require collection, download and work-up of the data, smart catchment events can be viewed in real-time without the need for human input.

Lower Cost

95% lower cost than comparable systems.

We’ve removed the hardware cost and dramatically reduced the time required for maintenance and deployment.

Sensor Deployment

No Infrastructure

The sensors are simply placed on the riverbed or suspended under buoys depending on the depth of water of interest.

Locating a site and deploying a sensor can occur in the same trip.

No Tools

FreeUP’s sensors are self-contained and require no tools to physically or digitally deploy them.

Simply place them in the area of investigation and they will do the rest.

No Impact

Once removed, the sensors leave no impact on the area of investigation.

This means that data can be collected from sensitive areas without the concern of leaving a lasting impact.

Outdoor Freshwater

FreeUP’s sensors operate in rivers and reservoirs. One type of sensor sits at the bottom of the water body with the second type floating at the surface. Either can be deployed depending on the user’s preference.

Outdoor Saltwater

FreeUP’s sensors can operate in saltwater environments, typical deployments have sensors deployed in near coast applications using the surface sensing sensor type.

Piped Water

FreeUP’s hardware can link up with pipe networks. Once we know the pipe diameter and typical flow conditions we can work with you to find a suitable sensing configuration.

Dashboard Use


Spend your time looking at insights, not system settings. FreeUP handles the settings and the data so that it’s simply available in the format you want.

Useful Data

See summary graphs or have the data exported in real-time through our API (and everything in-between).

No Installations

You’ll never need to have admin privileges, install or update any software. As long as your device has an internet browser and connection, you’re all set.

Current Measurements


The measure of optical clarity in water. This is sensed from 0 – 1,000 NTU.


The measure of red, green and blue absorbances in water. This is sensed in the APHA/Hazen scale from 0 – 500 PCU. 


Temperature detection to an accuracy of 0.5 C.


Highly tuned sensing can be deployed through unique optical combinations. Tell us what you want to measure and we’ll let you know if/how we can.



We aim for our dashboard to work for all water users. We add different dashboard layouts and tools for different user types and we don’t believe that one size fits all.

If you have questions or thoughts about what interface would work for your organisation, please get in touch. We want our dashboard to work for all water users including you.



    Catchment events are often linked. Incorporating knowledge of the target of investigation enables the use of proxy measurements.

    A measurement of turbidity, for example, can indicate surface runoff carrying pollutants/nutrients, a change in river flow, a failed pipe/intervention, etc making turbidity a proxy measurement for all of these investigations.

    We’re also adding additional sensing to make our approach work for everyone.

      General Public

      The Current Problem

      • Pollution and environmental issues are known to occur
      • Environmental data often isn’t available to support change
      • Collecting data isn’t realistically possible for the average person

      The Result

      • Publicly driven environmental improvements are slow
      • Uncertainty can be used to justify inaction

      Outdoor Bathing

      The UK’s outdoor bathing standards were reported as the worst in Europe in 2020.

      24 of the 31 countries had an excellent quality rating on over 50% of their sites, the UK by comparison, achieved this for just 17% of sites measured.

      Sewage in Rivers

      From Oct 20 – Sept 21 sewage was cumulatively pumped into rivers and the sea for 3.1 million hours. 4.5 human lifetimes if placed back to back.

      Modelling predicts up to three times more sewer overflows into rivers due to future increases in rainfall.


      Documenting Decline

      • Global warming is causing salmon to retreat ever further north as they can’t spawn in warmer waters.
      • The UK has lost over 90% of its coastal seagrass, our climate’s version of coral reefs.
      • Simulations show negative trends in future river oxygen and phytoplankton levels.
      • Etc.


      Nature-Based Methods

      Nature-based methods have been shown to be effective methods for dealing with flooding and diffuse pollution.

      Real-time validation data will help increase the scale and rate of their adoption.

      Citizen Science

      The collection of information by the general public can assist scientific research, greatly increasing its impact and deployment into the real world.

      Ecological Benchmarks

      Understanding our environment is important to know where additional efforts should be placed.

      Documenting negative trends is the first step in halting them. Determining positive outcomes helps make them applicable to other areas.

      Public Driven Change

      Whatever the reason, we believe that you, the general public, should be able to collect data to enact change. That it should be easy to do so, that it should add to a greater whole and that it should help to move us all forwards.

      Whether you’re a community, club or individual, if you have any questions about your application. please get in touch as we want to help improve water for everyone.

      Utility Companies

      Risk-based Decision Making

      Use real-time data to inform decisions and take preventative, data-informed action.

      • Monitor upstream of abstraction sites to get warning of cut-off events and ensure longer filter lifetimes
      • See reservoir feeder stream’s conditions without dispatching personnel
      • Alerts for post-storm drain/sewage works issues by detection of river quality impacts
      • Etc


      Data-informed Planning

      Collect longitudinal data due to the lower cost and complexity of data collection.

      Enable your team to see the data in context, without the need for work-up and dissemination meetings.

      • Impact analysis
      • CAPEX planning/benchmarking
      • Public engagement
      • Regulatory requirements
      • Etc


      Full Team Access

      Our dashboard is optimised for both mobile and desktop machines with consideration for low bandwidth environments.

      This means that outdoor users with mobiles in areas of poor signal have access to all of the features that users in the office have creating a unified team experience.

      Additionally, there is no need to install software, making any device with a screen and an internet connection compatible.

      Customisable Interfaces

      Utility companies have different sensing requirements and are typically at different levels of technology adoption.

      From the conversations we’ve had, many have said that they don’t want to be forced to use yet another dashboard.

      We readily acknowledge this and can provide data via API or customise what we display on our dashboard to match your needs.

      We don’t believe in one size fits all and we will listen to what you require as utilities like catchments, are all different.

      Scientific Research & Regulators

      Ensure Data Collection

      As our data is sent in real-time, you can be sure that what’s been measured has been collected.

      This removes the uncertainty of data recovery and the risk of recovering a data logger that has been deployed for months only to find that it’s lost or broken.

      Reduce Data Work-up

      Team members can view data online, in context and without the need for data collection and work up.

      Once further analysis has been defined, the data of interest can be downloaded for follow on analysis without the need to even leave the office.

      Simple Collaboration

      Provide national/international colleagues with their own login credentials and they will have access to the same live data sets.

      No need to email or cloud share data, simply work with the always live and up-to-date dataset.

      Automatic Triggers

      Thresholds can be set so that colleagues receive a notification as an event is unfolding.

      Simply provide a phone number and they will receive a text alerting them to the event so that they can take immediate action.

      No CAPEX Investment

      Invest 100% of the research grant into data acquisition rather than a hardware cost that will likely have little use once the project is completed.

      This approach enables a far wider scope of data collection compared to the typical purchase, maintain and use alternatives.

      Independent Validation

      If required FreeUP can validate the authenticity of data collected by our systems.

      This third-party accreditation gives you the option of adding an extra level of evidence, especially when replicating our building upon other research that used our equipment.

      Find out more