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 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 name CyanoLakes RealTime in the third quarter of 2017.


CyanoLakes (Pty) Ltd also provides custom solutions to water problems using satellite remote sensing for government authorities, commercial water utilities and bulk raw water users, aquaculture operators, water engineering firms, environmental scientists and academic and research institutions.


Mark Matthews


PhD in bio-optical remote sensing


Mark Matthews is a proudly South African scientist and entrepreneur specialising in the remote sensing of cyanobacteria from space. He has a PhD in bio-optical remote sensing from the University of Cape Town where he currently serves as an honorary research associate. You can view his list of publications here, and his full profile here.

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