Building with our friends at The Opportunity Project

Mikel Maron
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Dec 8, 2020

Building with our friends at The Opportunity Project

Mikel Maron

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Dec 8, 2020

The Opportunity Project is one of my favorite enduring innovation efforts in the US federal government. Over the course of two administrations and counting, Drew Zachary and her team have actively improved a model of collaboration —unique in the federal government— that gets builders and experts from different sectors volunteering together in effective teams. Over the course of several months, these teams move from problem statements and raw open data to prototype solutions. The timing and structure of a sprint makes all the difference. It’s like a hackathon, but one where teams can actually dig into nuances of an issue, its stakeholders, and data.  Drew shared more about their approach at the Mapbox GovSummit last year.

The Mapbox Community Team participated in the latest sprints on natural and built environment problem statements, and are excited to take part in Demo Week Dec 9 - 11. 2020 is our third time joining TOP sprints, after working on housing subsidies in 2016 and environmental stewardship in 2018. This time we were joined by several friends of Mapbox as well, making up a proud cohort of excellent map makers. Here’s what we all built.

NAIP Viewer by Mapbox

We’ve written before about the incredible value of USDA’s open National Agriculture Imagery Program. The TOP challenge was to make this imagery more accessible to farmers, so working with Pratik Yadav and Arindam Bose, we wanted to make NAIP as easy to browse as any app in your pocket. Our NAIP Viewer stands on the shoulders of the single mosaic layer built by our imagery team, and leverages Mapbox GL JS templates to build an intuitive experience. The addition of nationwide acquisition dates of individual scenes came from the helpful insights and pointers from the NAIP team at USDA, as part of TOP-facilitated review sessions.

Resettled Refugee Services and Data Explorer by Graphicacy

Our friends at Graphicacy looked at refugee settlement and service data with the UN Refugee Agency, drawing insights on community formation from data on where refugees settled and where services for refugees are available. Graphicacy shares more details on their project in this post. The result, the Resettled Refugee Services and Data Explorer is a fascinating portrait of our country of immigrants.

Beach cleanup data dashboard by Rutgers University students

Masters students in Computer Science at Rutgers University tackled the issue of ocean plastic pollution and built a dashboard to help organize beach cleanups, with data-driven decision-support tools based on years of citizen science data compiled from NOAA’s Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project (MDMAP), Ocean Conservancy's TIDES Coastal Clean Up data, and the European Environmental Agencies Marine Litter Watch.

Snapshot Tool by OpenAQ

OpenAQ spoke to many community advocates about the data challenges in advocating for clean air. “Proof” in the form of data is inaccessible or sometimes sparse, and existing tools too complicated for non-technical users. The Snapshot Tool addresses this need through a simple-to-use report builder that aggregates and visualizes long term trends in OpenAQ aggregated data, at a station, city or country level.

Field management tool by New Light Technologies

New Light Technologies used NAIP to address lock-in of precision agriculture data, with a tool that takes NAIP, terrain, soil quality and other information to produce precise, manufacturer independent instructions for automated tractors and optimize supplies used on an individual field.

It was great sprinting along with this cohort of builders. Tune in to hear more about it. And developers using Mapbox to work on tough social or environmental problems (or want to be!), the Mapbox Community loves to partner with builders and our network of social impact organizations. Get in touch so we can explore ways to build together.

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