Healthy Waters…there could be an app for that!

By Christina Catanese
Find out how to submit your App for the Environment!Are you a mobile apps developer? Do you know one? Well now is your chance to show us what you can do with EPA data on a mobile device!

EPA’s Apps for the Environment Challenge is a contest that puts your tech-savvy to the test.  EPA challenges you to find new ways to combine and deliver environmental data in a mobile app.  You can use EPA data by itself, or combine it with other environmental and health data to make a useful resource for individuals or communities.  Besides addressing one of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s Seven Priorities, the only limit to what you can create is your own imagination!  You have until September 16, 2011 to submit your application, and you can get all the details here.

Not a coder but think you might have the next big idea for an environmental app?  There’s a place for your input.  Visit EPA’s Data and Developer Forum to submit your idea for an app, as well as submit comments or questions about EPA’s existing apps, data resources, and data sets.  The brainstorming has already started, so check out the ideas for apps that others have had to get inspired!

We’d like to challenge you one step further and encourage you to come up with an app that uses water data about the Mid Atlantic region.  That’s right, we’re talking about a Healthy Waters App! There are lots of places to find data about the waters of our region.  EPA and state websites have loads of interesting data that includes water quality monitoring and assessment, Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), permitted facilities, non-point source projects, drinking water sources and facilities, beach sampling, and clean water grants….just to name a few!  You might also find interesting water data from other federal agencies, like the USGS, Forest Service, National Park Service, or CDC.  What other sources of water data can you think of?

We’d love to hear from you in our own comments section… how would your Healthy Waters App use Mid Atlantic data?  I’m no computer scientist, but if I could make a Healthy Waters App, I think I would make one where I could type in my address (or let my cell phone GPS determine my location) and have it tell me where my drinking water comes from, any consumer confidence reports the facility has issued, what watershed I’m currently in, any impairments nearby waterbodies have, all shown on a map of course.  Or maybe I would want it to tell me where the nearest EPA-funded water project is.  Or maybe I would want to have mobile beach advisory alerts, so I knew when and where it was safe to go for a swim.  Or maybe…

Well that’s enough from me!  Tell us about the Healthy Waters app that you would make, and get cracking on your code to submit your app to the challenge!

About the Author: Christina Catanese has worked at EPA since 2010, and her work focuses on data analysis and management, GIS mapping and tools, communications, and other tasks that support the work of Regional water programs. Originally from Pittsburgh, Christina has lived in Philadelphia since attending the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Political Science and an M.S. in Applied Geosciences with a Hydrogeology concentration. Trained in dance (ballet, modern, and other styles) from a young age, Christina continues to perform, choreograph and teach in the Philadelphia area.

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