November 9th & 10th Brooklyn



We are passionate about understanding global environmental change, and don't see many meet-ups that bring together the diverse community of scientists, hackers, designers and hobbyists that share our interests. After last spring's amazing turnout, we are excited to have you join us for EcoHack3!

We've found some great big space in Brooklyn so that we could expand all portions of the event. This is going to be the biggest EcoHack yet, so don't miss it!

Follow the Twitter discussion!


FRIDAY 9th NOV. 6:30PM-9:00PM

5-minute ignite talks

Have a cool project? Some new or unused data to share? Come tell us about it! (20 slides * 15 seconds) + auto-advance = 5 minutes of enviro-geek fame.

Excite people and build a team for Saturday. Submit now!


Hacking with data

This is an unconference, which means that after the Ignite talks on Friday we will divide into small groups on Saturday and actually work on solutions.

Bring your laptop, hardware, balloons, and data and be ready to hack. At the end of the day we all come back together to show off our results.


We have had an unexpected turn of events that led us to not being able to throw EcoHack at the AMNH! Without batting an eyelash though, some friends at Acumen stepped up and offered us some really cool space in Brooklyn. It's big, sunny, and apparently has some incredible internet. We couldn't be more excited about it!

Friday we will meet at 6:30PM with talks starting at 7:15PM. Afterwards, people generally go out and get to know each other and talk about plans for their projects over a beer. Saturday we will start at 9:30AM and we will leave the museum at 8PM, we will then head for dinner and drinks nearby.


The Hacks

We had a great set of Ignite talks submitted this year and we've assembled the best of the best to present their ideas to you on Friday night.

Hardware + Infrastructure + Data Collection
Liz Barry Collecting Sandy data with the PLOTS balloon kits [more] Satellite images can be a great place to start when making a map. But Google’s images are often several years old, and may not be high resolution enough. And isn’t it creepy that they’re taking pictures of you?

With a helium filled balloon you can take your own aerial pictures, stitch them together, and view them a web map like Cartagen or Google Maps. We’re working on a way to trace them and create a PDF to print out.

When you fly your balloon, check for any local regulations - federal regulation say less than 500 feet high is OK, and if your balloon is smaller than 6-feet in diameter and less than 115 cubic feet in volume, you're even excepted from that: Federal moored balloon regulations. Try to stay away from tall buildings because you could scrape against them, but also because the wind currents near them cause a lot of turbulence and your photos come out blurry.
Georgia Bullen Wireless Mesh: Eco-Infrastructure [more] Wireless Mesh is not just an infrastructure to transmit data. It is an intervention meant to nurture neighborhood scale data collection, unlocking the ability to plan and evaluate at the neighborhood level.

Communities or interest groups can form research committees and build tools to analyze any aspect of an environment locally, using the mesh to distribute communication as well as locally aggregate data. For example, a community research committee (CRC) could develop a survey on water conditions after a hurricane and post it to the network. Community anchors and other third spaces would all have subscribed to the CRC's survey feed, so the survey is automatically posted to their digital walls – making them publicly accessible.

The survey is also featured on the Community WiFi Mesh Hot Spot splash pages and pops up when you connect to the WiFi. Sensors (such as CO, Radiation, etc), some co-located with Wifi nodes and some owned and maintained by local residents and citizen scientists are deployed over the same WiFi Mesh network, sending readings to the local server that is collecting and aggregating data. This provides real-time data collection in parallel to the community survey.

Anyone in the community can take and administer the survey to anyone else throughout the neighborhood and contribute to the effort. A community member with a view of the local water access adds a video feed of the water level, which is now available on the community portal, along with the real time and community gathered data.

Mesh Wireless can provide sustainable local infrastructure or temporary infrastructure for collection and sharing data with your community. During this EcoHack, we want to develop tools or “apps” that eco-hackers can tailor to suit their needs, so the mesh works best with their specific initiatives.
Mapping and data hacking
Leif Percifield Post-sandy water and sewage data analysis [more] The idea behind this project is to allow NYC residents to help reduce the amount of pollution in the harbor. Some 27 billion gallons of raw sewage is dumped into the harbor every year. This comes from Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) that open when the sewer system is overloaded. The idea is to enable residents to understand when the overflows happen and reduce their wastewater production before and during an overflow event.

At EcoHack we will look at data collected before, during, and after Sandy to explore the extent and impacts of the storm on CSOs.
Tom Allnutt Mapping Madagascar Biodiversity [more] Madagascar has one of the most unique and threatened biotas on the planet. Endemism is unusually high: 80-90% of Madagascar’s terrestrial vertebrates are found nowhere else, and there are five endemic plant families, for example. Deforestation is also high: 40% of the island’s forest was cut between 1950 and 2000, and deforestation continues at about 1% per year. Despite this, even small forest fragments continue to yield incredible discoveries. A recent amphibian survey of a small forest patch less than one quarter the size of Manhattan found 76 frog species, including over 20 species new to science. To support conservation efforts here, the Wildlife Conservation Society has developed a database of species occurrence data and distribution models for past, present and future eras. We propose using this data to make interactive online maps and visualization tools. Ideally, these tools will allow users to produce maps showing biodiversity and forest cover patterns (e.g. richness, endemism, forest cover, change) and species lists for different areas of interest (e.g. protected areas, sites, grid cells) and eras (past, present, future). See a rough prototype here: Because the database is constantly growing, a key challenge is how to dynamically query the data, minimizing the need to store large, pre-calculated relationships between species and places.
Kyle C. McDonald Regional to global scale characterization of terrestrial biomes with earth-orbiting satellites [more] Active and passive microwave remote sensing observations from Earth-orbiting satellites can be employed to characterize fundamental process-level information related to the cycling of carbon, water and energy in terrestrial ecosystems. Microwave instruments are highly effective in observing surface moisture, inundation, and the transitioning of water between frozen and non-frozen conditions. Time series data sets can support assessment of seasonally varying canopy structure (e.g., phenology), and water status, including the capacity to identify plant stress and physiological constraints to ecosystem productivity. These sensors can also support monitoring of surface inundation dynamics important for assessment of wetland ecosystems, with high resolution imaging radar data also supporting mapping of these biomes. Microwave remote sensing data sources can also support studies of ecosystem biodiversity. As part of several NASA-supported Earth Science projects, we have assembled a variety of regional-toglobal scale datasets derived from microwave remote sensing. Data records we have compiled include mappings of inundated wetlands at multiple spatial and temporal scales, daily mappings of land surface freeze/thaw state dynamics, measures of vegetation phenology, and mappings of surface climate fields associated with ecosystem biodiversity. These datasets facilitate investigations of Earth’s climate, biogeochemistry, hydrology, and biodiversity. The ability to effectively explore these datasets within a unified, cohesive framework available through an integrated web-based portal would advance the utility of these dataset for supporting Earth science investigations as well as provide an improved data exploration and dissemination tool for the science and education communities. We present these datasets for consideration to the ECOHACK event.
Katja Seltmann Plant Bugs project [more] This Plant Bugs project ( is a National Science Foundation in collaboration with over 30 museums in the United States. We focus on an ecological relationship between major plant eating insect groups, the Hemiptera (aphids, scales, hoppers, cicadas, and true bugs), their host plants (the plants they feed on), and their parasitoids (wasps that kill the bugs) in a databasing and imaging project. These data are transcribed from historic specimens in museum collections. We have already collected nearly 700,000 insect (bug) records with host plant data (plants the bugs are feeding on). We are interested in ways we can visualize these host plant and insect relationships. Many insects feed on lots of different plants, some are much more specific, feeding only on one or two plants. We would like to have a way to discover these interactions (who feeds on what, which insects feed on lots of plants) and explore them visually.

I would love to open this up for some creative network ideas for visualizing this information!
Thomas Levine The wetlands project [more] I've been taking some clean, structured data out of applications to build things on wetlands.

Scott from the Gulf Restoration Network is already using the data in his efforts to protect wetlands from reckless development, but he doesn't have the time or skills that we have this weekend.

Let's do something with these data! Here are some ideas based on discussions with Scott, but do consider other things too.

* Improve the identification of the "total acreage" figure

* Map the applications. Until we extract latitudes and longitudes, we can use parish instead.

* Present the data otherwise. We have the full images and text of these documents, and I've already pulled out information relating to laws, dates and people.

More information is linked.
Mapping and tool building
Brent Kinal iMapInvasives Going Mobile… HTML5 caching and hybrid app development. [more] Invasives species are one of the greatest threats to our natural areas! iMapInvasives (iMap) is an all taxa online invasive species data management and mapping tool developed as a venue for citizen scientist and environmental professionals to share invasive species data, with the goal of developing strategic management decisions. iMap was developed using HTML 5 and CSS and built primarily in open source (OpenLayers, PostGIS, MooTools and Django). HTML5 and CSS have allowed iMapInvasive’s data collection tools run on mobile devices through the browser, however we have run into a two limitations: 1. developing web caching abilities (e.g. web cache manifest) to work out of connectivity, and 2. sharing iMap with our users in the mobile market place (e.g. App Store and Google Play). Due to the constantly evolving nature of iMap, we have made a decision not to go the route of developing native mobile applications at this time; however, the team is seeking solutions for the development of a hybrid application allowing distribution of iMapInvasives mobile via the mobile market.
Craig Mills What's goin' on 'ere then? [more] People are making decisions on where to build, invest and conserve without having ever visited an area. Often the choice on where to invest is based on a vague notion of value with little scientific credibility. What if decision makers could instantly figure out the value of an area compared with somewhere else? If I spend one million dollars protecting this space, what does the rest of human kind get in return? This is not just a philosophical problem, it's also a technical one. Most of the global scale datasets of species, habitats, carbon, water and other ecosystem services are rasters and analysising them can be hugely time consuming and difficult. Can our ecohackers figure out how to do this quickly, and communicate the results in an elegant and beautiful way? That is your challenge.
Collaborative hack with the Hack'n Jill: Hacksgiving
Aurelia Moser NY Recovery Hack [more] Our friends over at the Hack'n Jill: Hacksgiving have come up with the idea to try and stimulate a shared hack between our two hacking communities. Our hackathons will be going on at the exact same time, so we will try to create a two remote hacking teams to work around a single project.

We've all worked hard to publicize post-sandy volunteer + recovering efforts. If you've checked they have a page up for all suggested tech projects for relief that are all important and in need. Perhaps a potential hack team that bridges both hackathons can help create solutions for some of these problems.
Community: #BikeNYC Hackathon
Noel Hidalgo #BikeNYC Hackathon [more] Open Plans and BikeNYC Meetup are pairing up to throw the #BikeNYC Hackathon. They will be joining EcoHack to present their goals and ideas on Friday night and will be hacking with us on Saturday. Find a complete list of hacks here, #BikeNYC Hackathon List.
Community: FarmHack
Severine von Tscharner Fleming Farm Hack guest talk [more] Farm Hack is a farmer-driven community to develop, document and build tools for resilient agriculture. We do this by convening farmers, engineers, architects, hackers and tinkerers through in person events and online forums, building upon the age-old tradition of on-farm innovation and retrofitting. We seek to develop appropriate, adaptable and resilient tools and technology to solve farmer challenges, and to foster a vibrant and diverse design community dedicated to supporting the reimagining and regeneration of our agricultural system through open-source collaboration. Whether this means converting a 60 year-old tractor to run on electric battery power, designing a more efficient produce wash table, or building an Arduino greenhouse monitor, we have the skills, resourcefulness and ingenuity to create technology that fits the scale and ethics of regenerative agriculture. The NYC hack will focus on meeting the needs of urban farmers in particular, focusing on human-powered machines, composting and more.


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