Orange County Public Works Announced As Winner of Inaugural “Data Innovation Challenge”

April 25, 2016

The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) announced Orange County Public Works and CloudCompli as the winners of the inaugural Data Innovation Challenge.

The event was intended to challenge participants to create applications, visualizations, and other tools to help harness publicly available water data related to climate change adaptation, regulatory oversight, and water quality.

First place was given to Orange County Public Works and CloudCompli for their work aggregating water quality data from a municipal separate storm sewer system in order to identify the source of water quality degradation.

“I was impressed by the ingenuity and innovation exhibited by the Orange County Public Works submission and its close connection to the core mission of the Water Boards to protect water quality,” says Tam Doduc, State Water Board Member, who participated in the judging process.

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Orange County Public Works’ submission Aggregating Municipal and State Open Data for Water Quality Investigations uses its own open data and the State Water Board’s California Storm Water Multiple Action and Report Tracking System (SMARTS) to identify possible dischargers responsible for exceedances of water quality thresholds within Orange County’s watersheds. Using real-time sources, the application in the future may enable faster reactions to degradations in water quality.

The runner-up, UC Davis Center For Water-Energy Efficiency, submitted a proposal to correlate urban water conservation data with reduction in energy use and greenhouse gas emission.

The UC Davis Center application uses data reported under the drought emergency regulations to visualize how different water utilities have responded to the 25% reduction of water use mandate, and to calculate the electricity savings associated with the reduced demand on water infrastructure services using estimates of average energy intensity per hydrologic region. The electricity savings were converted into avoided greenhouse gas emissions based on the emissions factor specific to the water utility’s regional electricity provider.

There were eight entries total, including other state agencies, consulting firms, students, and one non-governmental organization based in Mexico. The judges for the challenge hailed from a diverse background and represented the State Water Board, the California Government Operations Agency, the Office of Water Programs at Sacramento State University, and the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation. The judges, composed of data science experts and water policy leaders, evaluated the entries based on technical competence and capabilities, use of data to provide effective outcomes, creativity and innovation, and valuable information and insights regarding data.

The State Water Board’s Office of Information Management and Analysis leads the Water Data Dive efforts. For more information, visit the State Water Board Data and Databases website, or visit the competition’s website: findanewway.ca.gov.

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