Open Data Reno at Hack4Reno

I had a great time this weekend at the 2nd annual Hack4Reno working on Open Data Reno, a hub to identify both available data pertinent to Reno and unfulfilled needs for data. The site is built on a WordPress theme started by Colin Loretz at last year’s hackathon, and this year I jumped in along with John Jusayan, Jeremy Murray, and Josh Infiesto to get it operational. I worked on improving the theme with Colin, and also locating and populating the site with data. In the process of doing that I learned more about a couple of useful sites for scraping, scrubbing, re-interfacing, and hosting difficult data sets. One is Cosm, where I found the most accessible air quality index data for Reno. The other is ScraperWiki, where I wrote a scraper to collect and present Reno water quality data from the very unstructured water authority lookup page. Fun!

4 responses to “Open Data Reno at Hack4Reno”

  1. Not only do water quality constituents change daily, they change continuously during the day. Temperature & pH goes up and down, nutrients are removed by bacteria and plants during growth cycles, precipitation events wash stuff into the stream, and they change as one moves upstream or down.

    As always, our measurements often do not accurately reflect reality, but instead only illustrate the problems we have measuring & describing reality. Great Fun !

  2. I have a personal project in the works to deploy an air quality data collector that will publish data continuously. If that works, seems like water should be equally possible. I’d be curious to see if the water coming out of the tap fluctuates during the day also…

  3. Interesting project. Yes, any kind of data logging is possible and using a little computer like an Arduino makes I/O much easier. The problem with sensing for water is floods, ice, bears and thugs — oh my !! Bye Bye sensors !!

    Be sure to carefully calibrate for any data type you record and in the environment you will be recording in. Temperature of the sensing unit can affect the readings as well….welcome to describing the real world, rofl.

    Let me know if you want database help with the sifting down of the mountains of readings such devices generate (at my email). Been doing it for years.

    Everything fluctuates, nothing is constant but natural systems all have cycles that are more or less predictable in shape.

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