Miami Open Data Day 2017: Sea Level Rise

On Saturday March 4th 2017 Code for Miami gathered at the CIC in celebration of Open Data Day, an annual celebration of open data all over the world. Open data is the idea that some data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control. For the seventh time in history, groups from around the world created local events and used open data to create projects to better their communities.

The idea to center this year’s Open Data Day around climate change and sea level rise seemed a natural choice for the organizers. The day is an opportunity to show the benefits of open data and encourage the adoption of open data policies in government, business and civil society. Because of new limitations on climate change policies at the federal level, and the very little money that is allocated toward research on the topic in Florida, Miami’s open data day seemed the right place to explore and advocate for sea level rise data.

From left to right: Mike Sarasti, Dr. Susan Jacobson Valencia Gunder Presenting

Speakers during the morning session included Valencia Gunder, Founder of Make the Homeless Smile, Mike Sarasti, the CTO of the City of Miami, and Dr. Susan Jacobson of the FIU Sea Level Solutions Center.

Valencia brought to light the issue of climate change and the disproportionate effects it has on Miami’s poor communities. She explained the effects can already be seen in Liberty City and Overtown where the young and old are having medical issues due to high temperatures and little access to shade or air conditioning.

The Monday before Open Data Day Code For Miami held a pre-event discussion at their weekly meeting on the current state of the ongoing project The organizers set goals for what could be done during Saturday’s event to make this project more pragmatic and useful to the public. One Code for Miami meeting each month is Sea Level Rise themed. These is led by Dr. Susan Jacobson, a long time Code For Miami member and Sea Level Rise advocate.

Susan spoke during the morning session of Open Data day about this ongoing project for attendees who were not familiar. Citizen Eyes is made up of a group of volunteers that collect data on flooding and sea level rise locations throughout the year. This data is made up of geographic coordinates, height of flooding, salinity of the water samples in flooded area. The challenge on how to use this unique data is to keep collect more of it and use it in a meaningful way.

Attendees work on developing a Climate Resilience Toolkit

Challenges on the day of included Sea Level Rise Open Data Collection, Sea Level Rise Data Visualization, Digital Training Tools for Citizen Reporters, Sea Level Rise Digital Storytelling and Sea Level Rise Iconography, and the creation of a Climate Resilience Toolkit.

More information about the challenges can be found here.

Logos created for the Sea Level Rise Iconography fountain.

The projects were presented in the late afternoon, and ranged from a Virtual Reality digital storytelling tool, to Sea Level Rise Graffiti and semi terrifying advertising campaign idea to raise awareness on the issue. The Citizen Eyes data collection tool got a revamp and will be used in the next Sea Level Rise Data collection event on April 27th. Overall the diverse group shared their knowledge and expertise in an event designed to do just that.

A diverse group of developers, designers, government staff, scientists, community organizers and concerned citizens attended the event. When asked during a survey conducted at sign in ‘Do you identify as any of the following?’, 54% Identified as a Concerned Citizen, 25% Developer, 25% Writer, 8% Designer, 4% Scientist, and 21% Other.

Attendees present their projects.

The next Code for Miami Sea Level Rise themed meet up will be held on April 3rd at the CIC Miami. We will be hosting Jane Gilbert, the newly appointed Chief Resiliency Officer of the City of Miami, for an invigorating discussion about how data and technology may be used to help citizens and local agencies mitigate against and adapt to impacts of sea level rise and climate change. We will have an opportunity to ask her about initiatives that the City of Miami is undertaking and data that might be available from the City.