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July 22, 2014, 12:02 p.m.
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LINK: www.gaugemap.co.uk  ➚   |   Posted by: Joshua Benton   |   July 22, 2014

Here’s an interesting project from the data-oriented software developer Shoothill: GaugeMap is an interactive map with live river-level data from over 2,400 government gauges across England and Wales. From the announcement:

GaugeMap aims to help to look after and improve the natural environment by allowing these users to access this data on the move, wherever they are. Users can retrieve live data on actual river levels via the website, or by following the new, dedicated Twitter accounts that GaugeMap has established for each of the Environment Agency‘s 2,400+ river level monitoring stations they may be interested in. For example Teddington Lock now has its own Twitter account: https://twitter.com/riverlevel_1182.

“GaugeMap will help any river user to be better informed, whether they use the river for recreation, pleasure or business,” said Rod Plummer, MD at Shoothill. “It also provides accurate, up-to-date information to help with water abstraction and so it could potentially be used to ensure the amount of water being abstracted from any river at any given time is sustainable and acceptable. Over-abstraction of river systems can cause changes in water quality, which obviously can have wide-reaching impacts on the wildlife that relies on our natural waterways, both directly and indirectly.”

It’s the Twitter integration that most interests me — over 2,400 accounts, each tied to a specific spot on a specific river, sending out alerts about water levels:

One could imagine ways to improve the bots. For instance, the accounts don’t seem to be smart enough to automatically alert when the water gets dangerously high. The GaugeMap site tells me that Catcliffe Drain is in a “Flooding Possible” state, but you couldn’t tell that from Catcliffe Drain’s Twitter account.

Still, the idea is powerful: a kind of distributed EveryBlock. One could imagine a local news organization gathering together data like this and pushing it out through neighborhood focused social media accounts, automatically and without human intervention.

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