Inspiration: We are inspired by the extensive sampling efforts across the watershed, and motivated to help advance efforts to continue monitoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

What it does: Mind the Gap is an on-line data visualization tool created with carefully curated prioritization scales to help easily spot temporal and geospatial data gaps in water quality or benthic sampling collection across the Chesapeake Bay watershed, with further categorization for each HUC-12 based on land use, stream designation, and adjacency to active sampling stations. Users can see data sampling trends across the whole watershed, by state, by local area, by HUC or at a specific CMC or CBP sampling station. The tool can be used to prioritize sampling efforts or create “target plans” to activate new sampling efforts, or re-energize efforts in an area that has not had recent sampling. The code is dynamic to ensure this tool can be modified with additional sampling parameters and/or updated as data collection efforts continue.

How we built it:

Step 1: We created a gap analysis for each sampling variable from the CMC and CBP databases for Water Quality and Benthic data. The data was separated by organization, sample parameter within 5 year intervals, then aggregated and scored based on sampling totals. The analysis focuses on geospatial and temporal gaps across sample parameters, geography and source database. The code to complete this analysis was done using Python, and then results generated into individual geojson files to upload to the ArcGIS online tool for visualization. Step 2: Further analysis was completed to create ‘prioritization scores’ at each HUC-12 level. Using QGIS, we expanded on the concept from existing point location analysis to generalize a descriptive HUC-12 prioritization scale using a prescribed algorithm. The algorithm was developed on a parameter basis, characterized by spatial and temporal sampling frequencies, drawing from geospatial characteristics; specifically Land Use designation, 303d stream designation, and adjacency to HUC-12 active sampling stations. The resulting ‘prioritization score’ heat-map was layered into the ArcGIS online tool, complimenting the geojson gap analysis layers. Step 3: The ArcGIS online tool was created by combining the geojson layers from our CMC & CBP temporal & geospatial analysis with the qgz QGIS files from our geospatial prioritization value layers. Within ArcGIS, symbols and colors were specifically chosen to easily identify temporal or geospatial gaps further classified by the land-use, stream designation or adjacency to active HUC-12 sampling stations.

Challenges we ran into:

One fun challenge we ran into was inverted LAT/LONG data points which resulted in our first ArcGIS map being in Antarctica!

Accomplishments that we're proud of:

We are proud of our ability to come together as a team during a global pandemic, dedicating a collective 120++ hours to the development of this tool that we hope can help Chesapeake Bay Watershed sampling teams enhance their efforts.

What we learned:

We learned that sample collection across the Chesapeake Bay watershed is very extensive, but largely decentralized. We also learned how to use QGIS, video editing tools, and how to turn raster data and code into geojson files to generate a high quality, dynamic tool for scientific sample data.

What's next for Mind the Gap: We will continue to be an awesome team prepared to present our tool to the Booz Allen and CMC teams for immediate implementation!

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