We look forward to advancing the work of making siloed data accessible to everyone.
Savannah Riverkeepers Manage and Share Data for Improved Decision-Making
"Data is only as good as it is accessible."—Tonya Bonitatibus, Savannah Riverkeeper
The Savannah Riverkeeper and Ogeechee Riverkeeper have used Esri products to facilitate the public's access to their river basin data and subsequently created a powerful public resource. Being familiar with interstate waterways, they are aware of the importance of making better-informed decisions based on the best science and knowledge available.
An Abundance of Data
Hundreds of thousands of water samples are collected on waterways throughout the United States every year by multiple agencies, organizations, and individuals. Each sample helps tell a story about the health of a waterway and its ability to handle stress from a variety of sources. Those datasets are housed in various physical or digital locations and in different formats, making it difficult to make holistic, better-informed decisions about our waterways. Obstacles preventing easy access to publicly available, often taxpayer-funded, data include the following:
- Data is dispersed among governing agencies (e.g., state boundaries).
- Data must be requested (via phone, email, or Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] request).
- Data is available only in paper form.
- Digital data is available but lacks spatial information.
These obstacles lead to data being fragmented and compartmentalized or even out of reach.
The best analysis is done on a robust set of data, making it important to be able to combine data from different sources into a uniform dataset.
Organizing Data and Sharing Information
Know Your River is a powerful tool, built using Esri technology, that collates data from over 40 different sources into one interactive mapping and dashboard interface. The data is organized with an emphasis on ease-of-use and features four maps:
- Surface Water
- Environmental Justice
Know Your River currently focuses on two river basins spanning Georgia and South Carolina but is easily scalable to other geographic areas, smaller or larger. KnowYourRiver.com features a growing list of scientific studies on the Savannah and Ogeechee Rivers. This website was built with a strong focus on data democratization using ArcGIS Hub, heavily relying on Esri tools, such as the following:
- ArcGIS Online was used to create the maps.
- ArcGIS Hub was used to create the website, including a dashboard in progress.
- Know Your River data is easily accessed through a link to the hub's Open Data content library, where users can download the data or use it in their online maps.
- ArcGIS AppStudio is a smartphone app that provides access to the four maps.
- ArcGIS Survey123 is used by Riverkeeper field scientists to submit water quality data.
The following types of data have been aggregated into Know Your River's easily accessible online maps:
- Water quality measurement (e.g., E. coli)
- Infrastructure (e.g., dams, power plants)
- Surface water features (e.g., rivers, ponds)
- Public water access points and boat ramps
- Parks and campgrounds
- Fish advisories
- Groundwater wells
- Real-time surface water levels
- Flood zones
- Real-time and forecasted rainfall
- Brownfields, National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) sites
- Citizen-collected data
- Environmental justice demographics
Easy access to data has benefitted home buyers, re-creators, scientists, activists, and agencies alike.
"I have come to know that informed decisions can only be made with the best available science and knowledge."— Bruce Azevedo, Chairman of the Georgia Savannah-Upper Ogeechee Watershed Planning Council
The solution began with a giant spreadsheet listing as many water quality data sources for the Savannah and Ogeechee River basins as possible. Priority was placed on finding real-time data from data loggers or web services (e.g., REST [Representational State Transfer] services).
Real-Time Data Sources
The Savannah Riverkeeper and Upper Ogeechee Riverkeeper are launching their own water data loggers to collect real-time data on temperature, dissolved oxygen, water level, pH level, and other important parameters. This data can be displayed in online maps using the manufacturers' application programming interfaces (APIs).
The Savannah Riverkeeper and Ogeechee Riverkeeper also trained citizen scientists who regularly collect water quality and visual inspection data from dozens of sample locations throughout their river basins. These citizen scientists utilize Esri's Survey123 application to upload their data to the Know Your River dataset. Water quality parameters from samples tested in the lab are uploaded as soon as test results are available.
Other real-time web services data include the United States Geological Survey (USGS) REST web services and the Water Quality Portal, a cooperative service sponsored by the USGS, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and National Water Quality Monitoring Council.
Static Data Sources
Data that is available online (but not as a web service) was downloaded from various sources and uploaded for display on the Know Your River hub. One example is a table of boat ramp locations with latitude and longitude posted on the South Carolina Department of Natural Resource's website. Other data, not available online, was directly requested from cities and nongovernmental organizations. These datasets were gathered and are now available as a web service from the Know Your River tool.
The plans for this app are to expand services and overcome barriers to data analysis:
- Use a back-end PostgreSQL database to aggregate similar data into one table with uniform units and analyte names.
- Complete a dashboard of tools to analyze the aggregated and uniform data.
- Offer users the ability to receive real-time data alerts via SMS or email.
- Expand the project to other river basins.
The Know Your River tool was built for two river basins as a pilot and has greatly benefitted home buyers, re-creators, scientists, activists, and agencies alike.
We expect this to become a tool that can be used worldwide to help citizens and agencies access data more cohesively.
ArcGIS supports Water Resources
ArcGIS is a modern spatial system that provides solutions that meet your need to monitor and assess conditions, perform research, and deliver information.