By Eamon Devlin
Get ready to dive into some data and make a little money doing it.
The Great Lakes Observing system (GLOS) is offering $9,500 in prizes to people who develop interesting uses for Great Lakes data.
The non-profit data hub recently announced a challenge to commemorate its ten year anniversary.
Challengers must make use of at least one publicly available data set to help the Great Lakes region.
That part is up to you. The final products could be as diverse as apps that show swimmers and boaters wave heights and currents, help plan a visit to the beach or provide a map revealing changes in algal blooms over time.
The top contestant in three categories – water quality, climate change and invasive species – receives $1,500. A grand prize of $5,000 is awarded for “best in innovation.”
While innovation is among the judging criteria for the other three, contestants will need to really think outside the box if they want to win the grand prize, said Kelli Paige, the executive director of GLOS.
The challenge is another way to support data sharing in the Great Lakes, she said.
The agency hopes to engage people of many different backgrounds. The potential of engaging the technology and private sectors is especially exciting, because both often aren’t partners in environmental fields, Paige said.
“We can use the data challenge to ignite creative partnerships between the tech sector and the environmental sector and the Great Lakes, so hopefully this will be the start of some interesting projects and problem solving,” she said.
GLOS is part of the Integrated Ocean Observing System, which is run out of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It houses data sets from federal and state agencies, Canadian agencies even universities.
All of this data is open to the public for use; if you are entering the challenge you need to use at least one of those data sets.
With so many contributors, the available data sets vary greatly, Paige said. There is data on the wind’s speed, dissolved oxygen, water turbidity, ice, electrical consumption, invasive species, algae growth and more.
There is a lot of data regarding the Great Lakes, said web designer/developer Jennifer Scroggins, of Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is entering the challenge with two former co-workers and hopes to help protect the Great Lakes.
“The Great Lakes are our region’s greatest resource and it is really imperative that we do as much as we can to preserve those for the future,” she said.
This is the first year GLOS has issued the challenge. The hope is to issue more every couple of years to incentivize more innovation and more use of the data the agency collects.
“There are so many different opportunities to take all this information and all this data that is being collected, and put it to some creative and innovative uses that I think can help in how we manage the Great Lakes for the future,” Paige said.
Want to see if your idea sinks or swims in a sweetwater sea of data? Dive in.