To help solicit interest in the inaugural SCAG/Esri Story Maps Challenge and demonstrate the value of data for local residents and visitors to Southern California, SCAG also developed a Story Map that predicts the likely locations of publicly accessible wildflower blooms in our region – which have been especially spectacular this year due to the high level of precipitation in the fall of 2016 and winter/spring of 2017.
The Where the Wildflowers Are website helps explain this phenomenon, and puts the bloom and this year’s rainfall patterns in the larger context of climate change, as well as locally supportive policies on natural lands (see the website’s “Here’s Why” section). To help visitors reduce their greenhouse gas footprint in accessing these blooms, the site also includes information on alternative transportation opportunities, such as transit, nearby bicycle lanes, carpool facilities, and live traffic information (“Visit Wildflowers”). In further engaging the public in this effort and to test the reliability of SCAG's prediction, users were invited to share and geo-locate their photos of wildflower blooms ("Share Your Photos + Map"). Finally, the site helps to advertise SCAG’s Open Data Portal (“Innovate”), as well as our core policy initiatives (“Plan”) and additional opportunities for engagement (“Collaborate”). Aside from connecting stakeholders to SCAG’s information resources, this website helps to demonstrate and engage residents in the beauty of our region using data - helping them make data-driven decisions in leisure activities while also reducing their greenhouse gas footprint.
Building on this effort, SCAG recently kicked off the Open Data/Big Data – Smart and Connected Region Committee, which brings together elected officials, information experts from partner agencies and academic instructions, as well as regional technology stakeholders from the private sector to examine the role SCAG should play in helping local cities adapt to the opportunities and challenges presented by open and big data. For more information, please contact SCAG staff Rye Baerg (firstname.lastname@example.org).