Our first Riverhack
More than 20 people passionate about protecting the health of our rivers including STEM, data scientists, graphic designers and others gathered to take up the challenge to participate in the first ever Riverhack.
The Riverhack provides water quality datasets for innovators to manipulate to answer water challenges.
It started on a Friday night with a lively session, introducing the challenges and the datasets being made available for participants. Earthwatch provided their FreshWater Watch citizen science water quality database for the hackers to get to grips with, along with data from CEH and the Environment Agency.
There were 14 challenges suggested for people to work on; a typical challenge being ‘How can we use data to tackle pollution incidents?’
Once the talking was out of the way, pizza and beverages were provided to lubricate the process of incubating ideas. Several hardy hackers stayed until midnight and the really hardy ones were back at their laptops at 9am the following morning.
The Riverhack was a fun and collaborative event. Earthwatch staff were there in force, with FreshWater Watch Researcher, Dr Ian Thornhill; Freshwater Hub Coordinator Luis Felipe Vasquez; FreshWater Watch Research Intern, Leticia Miguel-Chinchilla and Learning Manager Sarah Le-Fevre all participating in project teams.
On Saturday afternoon, Global FreshWater Research Manager, Professor Steven Loiselle formed a third of the judging panel and helped select three worthy winners from the final six projects. The winning concepts that the Riverhack team are hoping to develop are:
a low cost innovative idea to measure turbidity using just a pint glass and post-it notes
a project to track the impact of dogs and ducks on our rivers by bringing existing water quality data together with harvested social media data
a Bluetooth enabled river appreciation project
The Riverhack team look forward to hosting future hacking events.
This event was a partnership between Earthwatch, The Centre For Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), Agile Ox, Wild Oxfordshire, Downstreams.net, MPLS (Oxford University) and Monkey Park Social Enterprise and Oxford Hackspace who also provided the brilliant space in which to hold the Riverhack.