For decades, volunteers have been collecting water monitoring data in streams, creeks and lakes in their communities, often as part of a larger program including stream channel or riparian restoration, community engagment and outreach. These groups regularly collect huge amounts of data, which unfortunately usually ends up just residing on a volunteers computer. When government agencies or consultants look for data on those same waterbodies for a project, they don't usually end up even knowing that the data exists.
Last November I attended a workshop in Invermere, BC, which focused on community based water monitoring initiatives and data sharing. I had some great conversations there, and realized that if we could come up with a way to empower these groups to share their data more effectively - and retain control over their data, that it would greatly improve the likelihood of their data being found by others, and considered. Since these organizations run on volunteer time and don't usually have any kind of budget for sophisticated data management systems, the solution also had to be free.
We came up with a simple plan to do this - leveraging the capabilities of Github. We have several community groups who've come on board in the past month, and have had really positive feedback so far. We are still working on refining the training and support material, but we'll be back soon with more details. Stay tuned!