Stories indexed with the term ‘raw data’

A2: River Data Discontinued

The USGS stream gauge for the Huron River located near Wall Street has stopped reporting data like oxygen content and turbidity, although basic stream flow data is still available. The message on the USGS realtime reporting site indicates that the reduction in data reporting is due to federal sequestration: “The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will discontinue operation of a number of streamgages nationwide due to budget cuts as a result of sequestration. Additional streamgages may be affected if partners reduce their funding to support USGS streamgages. The USGS is working to identify which streamgages will be impacted and will post this information as it becomes available. … When budget fluctuations occur, the network is impacted.” [Source]

According to Huron River Watershed … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Considers Broad Park Fee Waiver

Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (Sept. 17, 2013): With about a half dozen Camp Take Notice supporters watching, commissioners recommended approval of a broad park fee waiver for charities that distribute “goods for basic human needs” in Ann Arbor parks.

Ingrid Ault, Alonzo Young, Camp Take Notice, Ann Arbor park advisory commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Ingrid Ault, who was elected chair of the Ann Arbor park advisory commission on Sept. 17, shakes hands with Alonzo Young of Camp Take Notice. (Photos by the writer.)

The waiver, which would require approval by the city council before taking effect, follows action by the council this summer to waive all park rental fees for the use of Liberty Plaza during a one-year trial period, also based on a PAC recommendation. The goal of that waiver is to spur more activity in that urban park, at the southwest corner of Liberty and Divisions streets.

The issue of fee waivers arose earlier this year when city staff considered charging a rental fee to the church that hosted Pizza in the Park, a weekly homelessness outreach ministry. Members of Camp Take Notice, a group that advocates for the homeless, has been urging the city to apply a broad fee waiver throughout the entire park system for entities that provide humanitarian aid. The recommendation approved on Sept. 17 is a compromise worked out with city staff and Camp Take Notice representatives.

Discussion among commissioners focused on how the waiver would be handled. Parks & recreation manager Colin Smith stressed that all park rules would still apply, and that applicants would need to go through the standard permitting process in order to receive a waiver.

During their Sept. 17 meeting, commissioners also discussed the issue of releasing raw data to the public, in the context of two recent surveys – on dog parks and downtown parks. Tim Berla and others advocated for making the survey results available in a form that could be used by the public for analysis. [The data from both of those surveys had been available in a .pdf format, and can now be downloaded from the city's website as Excel files.] Other commissioners pushed for the city to develop a policy regarding the release of data – a standardized approach that would be approved by the city council.

The Sept. 17 meeting also included PAC’s annual election of officers. Commissioners unanimously selected Ingrid Ault as chair and Graydon Krapohl as vice chair. Bob Galardi was re-elected chair of PAC’s budget and finance committee. There were no other nominations. Current PAC chair Julie Grand is term limited and will be cycling off the commission in October.
[Full Story]

Ann Arbor Provides Online Rain Gauge Data

The city of Ann Arbor announced in a press release on Feb. 29, 2012 that a new page on the city’s website provides rain gauge data for three locations in the city: Barton Pond, Jackson Road and South Industrial Highway. The user interface allows visitors to the page to chart rainfall measured by 15-minute increments or by day at least back to Nov. 24, 2009. Data on the page is current as of 7 a.m. the previous morning.

For the Barton Pond gauge, the March 2 rain measured 0.45 inches. The Jackson Road and South Industrial Highway locations recorded 0.28 inches and 0.49 inches, respectively.

The city’s webpage also allows users to download data in files that contain comma-separated values. Based on … [Full Story]

Column: Chartering a Course Through Data

At the Ann Arbor city council’s Feb. 16 budget committee meeting, committee members were introduced to the city’s new data catalog. Even though it is only February, I think this will be the most significant project undertaken by the city in all of 2010.

Ann Arbor police service calls for Jan. 3, 2010. This map was built by The Chronicle in about 15 minutes using data from the city's online catalog. (Image links to fully interactive map hosted at

At the same meeting, the budget committee also continued its discussion about the content of the monthly financial reports that the city charter requires the city administrator to provide to the council.

What ties these issues together is the idea that there’s information the city will be routinely pushing out, without anyone needing to make a special request for it.

In the case of the data catalog, it appears at first glance that the project is a kind of bonus for the citizens of Ann Arbor. That is, it could be thought of as something the city is not required by law to do, but which it’s doing anyway in the interest of transparent government.

That’s different from the monthly financial statement, which the charter explicitly requires. That issue came to the surface during the budget committee meeting, during a verbal exchange between Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) and the city’s chief financial officer, Tom Crawford. The exchange found Taylor appealing to an English word only rarely deployed as a verb: “I guess I’d stickle.” [Full Story]

Ann Arbor’s Budget Data to Go Online

Ann Arbor City Council Budget Committee (Jan. 19, 2010): Sometime within the next two months, Ann Arbor city councilmembers and Ann Arbor residents – or anyone, for that matter – can expect to start getting access to raw data files of all city financial transactions.

Budget Committee Posting

Posting of the budget committee's Tuesday meeting.

At a meeting of the Ann Arbor city council’s budget committee, the city’s chief financial officer, Tom Crawford, sketched a plan to start making available a wide range of raw data from the city, starting with numbers from the finance department. Crawford said he hopes to have a pilot in place by the end of February.

Budget committee members also discussed what the contents of a monthly statement should be that will now be provided to the committee and to the council as a body – such a report is required by the city’s charter.

The other main point addressed by the budget committee was raised by city administrator Roger Fraser, who suggested to councilmembers that they owed it to the community to put the question of a city income tax before the voters. Fraser said they had a responsibility to float the question, regardless of what their personal feelings were on the issue.

The meeting was also attended by Mayor John Hieftje, who is a member of the city council, but no longer part of the 5-member budget committee – the council reorganized its committee structure at its Dec. 21, 2009 meeting. Hieftje participated in deliberations on the question of when a city income tax ballot question might feasibly go on the ballot. [Full Story]

City and Residents to Make Tree Policy

Recent tree trimming activity in Ann Arbor’s Virginia Park in connection with the filming of the movie “Flipped” had drawn scrutiny from neighbors. But more significantly, tree removal and pruning in the general neighborhood had raised concerns among residents about the city’s tree management policy. Why were apparently healthy trees being removed?

On Monday evening, city staff met with 80-100 residents in the auditorium of Slauson Middle School. Kerry Gray, coordinator for urban forestry and natural resources planning, was on hand to clarify that an initiative to develop an urban forest management plan – Gray’s main goal in the coming year – had been accelerated. Instead of beginning the public process in the fall, Monday’s meeting was effectively the kickoff to a public engagement process on developing a tree management plan for the city. [Full Story]