Putting Data into Practice for Sustainability Initiatives


One hackathon team presenting their map of the Water Department’s Stormwater sites.

As part of Code for Philly’s Apps for Philly Sustainability hackathon this last weekend, tech-savvy students and established developers broke into teams to draft online or apps-based tools to support sustainability efforts. After teams presented their projects, a panel of experts in technology, sustainability, and social impact gave feedback and suggestions on how to further implement the ideas post-hackathon. Two of the five teams used or were inspired by data from the City of Philadelphia made available on Open Data Philly:

  • Ensuring Clean Water: Philadelphia has completed building many stormwater sites, which collect and filter water from rain and snow. This process prevents pollution of streams and rivers, the overflow of sewers and the flooding of homes and businesses. One hackathon team collaborated with the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) to create a map that shows the locations of Philadelphia’s stormwater sites, the costs and tools used to manage them and their storage volumes. The map was built using PWD’s Green Infrastructure Completed Projects data, which they released last week for public use and in conjunction with this hackathon. In future iterations of the map, they would like to add Indego locations so that visitors and residents using the bike share program can plan their tour.
  • Reducing Energy Consumption: The 2014 Energy Benchmarking data for City Owned Buildings from the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability inspired another team to develop a tool that they described as a means to “strengthen the connection between individual behavior and impact to inspire action.” The tool would allow community members to link their gas, water and electric bills to map their current energy consumption patterns. Another feature would allow users to assess the impact of renovations they may consider making (i.e. replacing old lighting systems with LED lights) on energy costs and consumption over time.

So why not try it out yourself? Check out the data sets mentioned above, as well as others, released by the Streets Department, Water Department, and the Office of Sustainability and try creating your own tools for sustainability! We’re interested in how community members think to use this data, so email data@phila.gov or join us on the public open data google forum  to share your inspirations.

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