February 17, 2015 / by Brendan

Stream Mapper

Working with Howard County’s Office of Sustainability, our team successfully completed Stream Mapper, an open source mobile app allowing citizens to quickly survey and share stream conditions with their local government. Trained volunteers use the new application for Android and iOS to submit pictures and basic observations about local stream conditions.

Currently Howard county has been using these crowdsourced data to identify trash sites for local cleanup efforts. However, as more data is collected, the agency hopes their VGI effort will provide a citizen derived perspective that helps identify sections of streams most suitable for bank restoration practices and stream blockage removal.

The application is a small part of a larger program that seeks to educate members of the community on simple, qualitative observations for monitoring a local stream. The Office of sustainability holds routine trainings that gathers volunteers and walks them through strategies to keep a pulse on the waterways in their backyard. In only 2 months of being live, the Stream Mapper Project has engaged 20 active users who have Stream Mapped over 100 locations in Howard County! Once a site has been monitored multiple times, a nearby tree gets fitted with an environmentally friendly tag that labels the area as a “tracked site.” This let’s the community know that the area is being actively monitored by the county and its team of volunteer stewards. With the help of the Commons Cloud API, Howard County staff are easily able to observe new users, track indivduals trained on Stream Mapper protocols, and moderate reports.

We’re excited to see our open source tools aid Howard County in implementing the Stream Mapper program. With volunteered geographic data and a growing user base, we hope to continue fostering an ethic of vigilance and stewardship for the waterways of Howard County and the Bay watershed.

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