There Ought to Be An Environmental App for That!

By Guy Tomassoni

I live in a community off the Chesapeake Bay and I love practically anything to do with being on or near the water! But I like different conditions for different activities. Sometimes I like wind and a high tide for windsurfing. Other times I like it still with a low tide for finding fossil shark teeth along the beach, and sometimes I like a changing tide for fishing. In addition to the water conditions, it’s also nice to know if storms are coming so I can get off the water before lightning strikes, and how sunny it’s going to be so I can make sure to bring my hat and sunscreen. And if I get lucky and catch some fish, it’s nice to know the minimum fish size I can keep and whether it’s safe to eat.

I know that EPA as well as other federal and state agencies already provide Internet access to lots of information I could use to help plan these and other adventures. But it sure would be great if the information was more easily and readily available! My wish for more and better environment apps is coming true!

Today, EPA is launching an effort called the Apps for the Environment Challenge that encourages private software developers to make Apps that use EPA’s data (and other sources of data) to help people and communities make decisions that affect their lives. The Apps for the Environment web page provides all the details (like rules and judging criteria), and lots of helpful resources like links to EPA’s data, ideas for new apps, a list of existing environmental apps, and even a discussion forum!

So how you can you get involved? If you are a developer, enter the challenge! If you know developers, tell them about our challenge and encourage them to enter. Or if you’re not a developer but like me, you have an idea for an app that you wish existed, post your idea on the discussion forum for developers to see and consider!


EPA is sponsoring this exciting new challenge as a way to put environmental information in the hands of people and help them make environmentally-informed decisions. I’m hopeful for some apps for my water adventures, so I guess I better start looking at those waterproof smart phones!

About the author: Guy Tomassoni has been working for EPA since 1992 spending most of those years in the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response working on hazardous site cleanups. For the last 2.5 years, Guy has been working on improving access and understanding of environmental information in EPA’s Office of Environmental Information.

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