For the past few years, one of the most ballyhooed categories of aquatic innovation has been the seemingly ubiquitous “app.” All of the major equipment manufacturers now offer apps that can be used to monitor and control important pool and spa functions. There are apps for monitoring chemistry and calculating dosages for sanitizing and water balance, and consumers can test their water and order chemicals just by tapping that little screen.

Managers of high-use commercial aquatic facilities now have a new app designed to help them manage, monitor and control operations. Appropriately titled “Facility Manager,” the app was designed by the aquatic design firm Counsilman-Hunsaker and released in conjunction with the National Swimming Pool Foundation to increase safety and sustainability of aquatic facilities.  

RELATED: NSPF Announces New App for Aquatic Facilities

The introduction of the app comes at a time when concerns over water quality at commercial pools have garnered national attention and resulted in facility closures. Continued outbreaks of water-related illnesses and problems associated with disinfection byproducts have led to the development of national standards for facility management, including multiple layered sanitation regimens described in the Model Aquatic Health Code.

The Facility Manager app was developed using the recommendations of the MAHC along with Counsilman-Hunsaker’s decades of experience designing high-use aquatic facilities. According to a joint statement, “Facility managers using this app can keep pools and spas safer and open longer, which is the mission of both organizations: more people living happier and healthier lives through aquatics.”   

I bring up Facility Manager not as an endorsement, per se (whether or not it catches on remains to be seen), but simply in the context of the overall trend toward greater control, which has the potential to solve some thorny problems. Control technology might just help bridge the gap between what we know should exist at pools — healthy, sustainable, well-managed water — and what we also know is too often the reality: problem water and after-the-fact response and remediation.

The ability to respond quickly to fluctuations in basic chemical constituents such as pH, ORP or elevated TDS before conditions result in the growth of bacteria and algae, excessive formation of disinfection byproducts, unhealthy air in indoor facilities and water-related illnesses, could alleviate some serious problems and improve perception of the aquatic experience.

Apps are usually considered tools of convenience, but it’s possible they will result in better water quality, less down time, reduced maintenance and ultimately greater consumer satisfaction on a grand scale.

We’ve just scratched the surface. Public water treatment utilities have control centers that look like something from NASA, and there are companies now writing code for “smart cities” where major infrastructure systems are constantly monitored. 

The one commonality of all of those diverse applications is they enable immediate response to problems before they blossom into bigger or even catastrophic events. In our case, a catastrophic event is more likely an algae bloom or a thriving colony of E. coli bacteria, but we will serve our customers better if we can avoid them. Apps may help us do it.

Eric Herman is Senior Editor of AQUA Magazine.