Plone as a cyanobacteria tracking site

Moisan Yves ymoisan at
Fri Apr 4 16:12:12 UTC 2008

Cross-posted to : NGO-plone, Scientific-Plone and Community-gispython lists

Hi All,

A couple of years ago, I built a Plone portal that was aimed at solving the communication and mapping/scientific needs of watershed organizations in our part of the World : Québec.  Watershed organizations here are NGO's and they are called "organisations de bassin versant" (literally "watershed organizations").

The project was based on a few content types I derived from PrimaGIS (see products on with category = geospatial) classes and PCL/ZCO, which was the prominent (in my eyes) Zope 2 geospatial stack software then.  Briefly, the content types had to do with Measurement stations, individual measurements and sensor objects.  The site allowed people to pinpoint a map to locate a new station (folderish) and the interface allowed people to create individual measurements in a given station.  Measurements could be plotted as time series [or almost ;-)] using matplotlib and I did a bit of CSS trickery to color code measurement values (in table cells) that exceeded regulatory criteria.  Measurement stations could be viewed both as lists of items in a folder (attribute search) or on a map (spatial search).  The last measurement value would pop up as one hovered above a Station.  The site ran on Plone 2.1.x and I later brought it to a 2.5 instance, but I never followed up on development and the project failed due to both my relative incompetence as a Zope newbie at the time and the lack of buy-in from the stakeholders of the project.

For two summers in a row now, Québec lakes and rivers have begun to show they were sick of all the junk we put in them and as a consequence we have witnessed important cyanobacteria blooming episodes that usually result in people not being allowed to use the lakes for recreational activities and also for domestic purposes (you can't take a shower with the polluted water, etc.).  I was asked if the portal I'd made earlier could be revived to serve as a "knowledge base" for cyanobacteria.  At this point in time, stakeholders are not well defined and user stories even less.  

My idea now is to use Plone as a true participatory environment.  I'm fed up of "web sites" presenting read-only information.  If people want to know about cyanobacteria, they can go to all the Wikipedias around and in my view we do not need to build yet another web site on the issue.  What I envisage instead is an environment where people at large could truly participate in the cyanobacteria blooming monitoring effort.  I'd like to let people living near lakes pinpoint a part of their lakes where cyanobacteria is seen (via GeoRSS ?) and eventually have a map of blooming events, that is a spatio-temporal aggregation of blooming event reports.  Given that some stakeholders will likely want to keep some control on the information (they won't let ordinary "non expert" citizens feed data in without review, which in some circumstances could make sense), how have people approached such a community issue to ensure the various stakeholders don't step on one another's toes and feel they all contribute to the issue ?

At this stage, I'm asking for urls of sites that tackle similar environmental issues that involve a large variety of stakeholders from government department officials though to county/city officials and citizens.  I googled "Plone cyanobacteria" but didn't find much so I'm now relying on the experts/enthusiasts on the above mentioned lists for pointers.  I need inspiration from what others have done :-).


Yves Moisan

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