Each year, one million Californians are exposed to unsafe drinking water, and water systems serving predominately Latino and low-income communities have disproportionately higher occurrences of some contaminants. Many of these people do not even know that the water coming from their tap is unsafe to drink. While public water records do exist, they are not consolidated in one site, they are full of technical jargon, they are not public friendly, and it is all in English, preventing Spanish speakers from accessing and using this information. We aim to help solve this problem by giving people a user-friendly, visual map-based tool to look up contamination reports in their area, and with the option to view this information in English or Spanish.
What it does
Our website aggregates and filters information from public .gov water records, and displays it on an interactive map centered around the user's current location. If the water in an area is contaminated, a marker is displayed on the map in that location. If you click on it, information about the specific contaminant is displayed including risks of consuming the water. There is also an option to view the site in Spanish.
How we built it
We started by analyzing public data about water quality, and wrote a Python script to collect this data. Next, we designed a database with Django where we would store this processed data and provide a simple API to access it. We researched each contaminant found in the public data to learn how it affects people, and wrote concise descriptions. Finally, we used numerous frontend technologies to build a website that anyone can use to see this data, simply and quickly, on a Google Map. The final product runs on a Google Compute Engine virtual machine, and it stores data in Google's SQL service, all easily accessible at waterhazard.org.
Challenges we ran into
Despite California's recent effort to push for open source data, it was difficult to find usable data. Not only was it difficult to find, but it was also difficult to understand as documentation was poor and they were highly technical documents.
Our team was generally inexperienced with the Google Maps API that we used to display the data. We hit a few roadblocks trying to make the map and hazards show up.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We're proud to have established a fully working website with the help of Google Cloud platform. We plan to keep the website active after the hackathon is over, our first time to do so.
We're proud of how the site looks. It is easy to navigate and promotes the general welfare of California citizens.
We are proud of the Spanish version of the website because language can be a huge obstacle to open sourced data. This way we can reach the most amount of people in California.