DataRefuge groups across the country race to save government climate data

We’ve written previously about the End Of Term Harvest and other ongoing efforts to preserve access to online government information as the Trump administration takes office. The EOT Harvest team, made up of volunteers from government and civil society, are still collecting crowdsourced nominations for government URLs to harvest and preserve.

Reports of Trump administration plans to remove climate data from the Environmental Protection Agency website, and subsequent reports of climate-related information going missing from the EPA site, have climate and environmental researchers particularly worried – especially given that President Trump has vowed to reverse Obama administration environmental policies. Groups like DataRefuge, out of the University of Pennsylvania, have been rushing to preserve as much government environmental data as possible, collaborating with the EOT Harvest and other environmentally-focused groups like Environmental Data Governance Initiative (EDGI).

The harvested data is being uploaded to the Internet Archive and DataRefuge, where it is being made accessible to the public with the help of archivists and librarians. The Internet Archive has been crawling the web and archiving web sites since 1996, so you can check to see if a site has already been captured by copying the URL and pasting into the Wayback Machine. If the site hasn’t been archived, there’s a button to submit the site for harvesting. If the page has been captured, you can also click on the various links on the archived page to make sure that lower level pages, PDFs, and other files linked off of that page are also archived.

DataRefuge has organized more than 20 hackathons across the country, where researchers and programmers can harvest government climate and environmental data and ensure it is archived. Beyond that, they have reportedly begun building software that can track of what government information has already been removed. On Monday, OTG and 67 other public interest groups called on federal agencies to notify the public, in accordance with the law, before stripping data from government websites. Giving the public advance notice of removal of online government information would give groups like DataRefuge time to archive data before it is no longer accessible.

If you’d like to get involved, you can nominate government sites for preservation using the EOT Harvest Nomination Tool , find a DataRefuge event near you, or learn how to organize one of your own.

Additional Resources:

Volunteers work to preserve access to vulnerable government information, and you can help – OpenTheGovernment.org

Public interest groups: Agencies must notify public before stripping online government data – OpenTheGovernment.org

Upcoming DataRefuge Events

How Data Refuge works, and how YOU can help save federal open data – Sunlight Foundation

 

Submitted by emanna on 02/15/2017