Crowd-sourced knowledge repository of restoring water cycles in arid regions?


Good opinions

Everyone, please go to Openhack’s hack. They want anyone with software project to go there and read the “Challenge Definition” document they have uploaded (or about to upload…I got advance warning from David!). They are coders who hack for humanity. If we define what we want, they will try to build it.


Looks pretty good to me - I can support this where possible.
"2-3 other pilots in parallel in strategic global locations"
We had a couple of requests on the SOS Cape Town water crisis Facebook page to ask if this (the Hackathon) could be done in Kenya and Mauritius and Rodrigues island - so it might be worth reaching out there?


@Gien do you have a link to the doc?
The site is on


Hi William,
David has just edited his main page with all the details. Go here:


Oh definitely! The page was made to be reusable by other towns, cities or regions in water crisis so if they want to do a hackathon there, they can reuse the website and for this purpose.

We have to figure out the mechanics of how to do that so that @Gabor doesn’t end up doing so much work. It would be ideal to make it like a template and users can just load it with content. We’ll have to see.

I haven’t thought in detail of how we should do this. Maybe we should keep all the solutions in one big pot and then tag it with the country OR the hackathon…so if Kenya did one, it would be tagged with Kenya. Because some solutions may only apply to that climate biome.

We should probably have some standard reference resources like a good climate tool so we can see what temp, rainfall, humidity and soil conditions exist. That will determine whether a solution will work or not there.

Other good general tool would be complexity analysis and causal loop diagram graph tool so we can look at wicked problems and try to anticipate unintended consequences.


I’m so glad you think it’s workable @William I agree it would be so good to have parallel sister projects. It would be good to get some ecologists and some social scientists in so we can try to envisage how to set this all up as a world class experiment and learning journey.

@Gien Thanks, I’ll draft a challenge description and post it back on here

@Gien @William @sigmundpetersen I was part of the information architecture team who co-created the Regeneration Hub in 2016. You can’t tell so much from the front end but we defined a myriad of data fields that we wanted people to be able to search by including climate zones, soil types, etc. I can see if we can share these data sets


Cool! I think we need to bill this hackathon project as an evidence-based collective action campaign so that we can attract the scientific resources we need to motivate action. @RicardoRug, are there social scientists in the Lens network that would be interested? My colleague is an ecologist and I can ask her to participate. @tomharper, would some in Alex’s network be interested?


Sounds awesome @Gien


@William @sigmundpetersen @Gien It’s incredible how information flows works. I think we need to completely review what gap we think needs our solution. Look at this incredible repository just launched 2 days ago:

“The Society for Ecological Restoration launches interactive platform for restoration resources! A searchable, crowd-sourced database, it already includes over 215 projects and 2,000 resources ranging from peer-reviewed articles to technical manuals and webinars. The Restoration Resource Centre is a unique collection of ecological information.”

Can we start a new discussion about needs and solutions and our next thoughts?


Database is on this page:

Looks awesome!

Yes, I just met with Ian (@Ianpat) and he will send out an invitation soon to invite everyone to participate and plot our course, and our next steps forward. There seems to be at least 4 channels of financial and equivalent support:

  1. social impact investment
  2. crowdfunding
  3. business incubation support
  4. City of Cape Town special water incubation program

but aside from that, the important thing is to meet and discuss the general strategy forward for each project and for the whole hackathon output.


@Cindy @Gien @sigmundpetersen - wow - so much amazing data - a real weakness of mine. This brought up many thoughts.

Not all data scientists and coders like it, but I have an abiding fondness for XML, for many reasons, not least it is relatively understandable to non-technical folks, quite often the ones crucial for any project.
There are already a couple of “standards”:
Ecological Metadata Language (EML) -
Essential Annotation Schema for Ecology (EASE) -
and some more generic standards
and one which might have a use StratML, which I was involved with because I could see it might have a use for disaster relief and the coordination of NGOs etc on the ground. The test bed is on
For me the beauty lies in the translation aspect. Any database can be used to create an XML file and any XML file can be translated to another XML file which (for example) can then be pulled into a database. The files are easily transferable over the internet - by email, http or ftp.
Most APIs (how applications talk to each other) use XML in the background - see SOAP -
And in fact HTML is a form of XML
XML can be easily converted to HTML or PDF or whatever.
A simple example is Recipe6_BangersAndMash.xml (3.3 KB)
which converts to Recipe6_BangersAndMash.pdf (1.1 MB)
Another is on where the conversion is done in the user’s browser - view source to see the underlying data.

So count me in!


Oh. and RSS and Atom feeds are XML too - which reminds me of another generic but useful metadata initiative - Dublin Core - used in both Atom and RSS

Two from the Regeneration hub
Atom -

They have the links back to front on their site :slight_smile:


Wow @William you know so much. Would you be able to answer the questions about what this project is about for the Swedish Hackathon, so we can try to find some people to help build it? Here are the questions:

I really like your vision and I think this is the direction we should head


Hey @Cindy I took the liberty of opening a google doc with the questions from Openhack and pasting sections from the intro post of this topic where I thought most suited.

I think it’s easier and more flexible to work in a document where people can edit, suggest and comment together. Please everyone use the document if you like and add to it, it’s shared and open to anyone with the link. :slight_smile:


:slight_smile: @Cindy - I have a brain like a sieve and I’ve been sieving all my life. I’m sure if anyone looked it it would just seem a mess and it often is but stuff pops up when prompted.
@sigmundpetersen @Gien
I’d love to help compile the doc - a conference call might be useful if we have time?


Hey awesome thanks heaps @sigmundpetersen! This is a terrific idea.

I must admit I’m a bit uncertain what my recommendations are anymore after this week. Firstly because after that amazing work by Society for Ecological Restoration I wonder are we not needed and should we just rather concentrate on supporting people like them. And secondly because when my friend Kieara asked Gunter Pauli, he already had one project he has identified as gold standard, so the analysis was not needed

So I’ve started thinking maybe the gap is more a peer to peer network so we can ‘replicate’ people like Gunter and John Liu 1000x so lots more people can access knowledge and be mentored. What do you think @sigmundpetersen @William?


@Cindy - I very much agree with the replication. The lack of scalability and what many call silos, drives me to distraction. Which is why I prefer templates and standards that can then be connected. The best database in the world is the Internet - but much to my and many others’ frustration, it isn’t semantic.
There are of course issues with any syntax or ontology but IMO outweighed by speed and ease of use.
So whilst’s it’s great to see datasets and sites such as the ones that have popped up here - I put myself in the imaginary position of say, a city about to face a water catastrophe - where do we start looking?
If we have questions such as the ones asked here, who or what do we ask them of?
And more importantly what does the next city to face the same crisis do?

Do what we are doing? I really hope they don’t have to.

This goes for all the other “future shocks” too - economic meltdown (predicted in 2-10 years), rising inequality (ongoing), energy shortages (soon), resource depletion (with us now), loss of biodiversity (ditto) etc etc etc

We need to get this right and not just for Cape Town.


@Cindy @sigmundpetersen @Gien @RicardoRug @endprogresstraps @Ianpat

I’ve been adding comments on the [quote=“sigmundpetersen, post:54, topic:6513”]
Crowd-sourced knowledge repository of restoring water cycles in arid regions?
[/quote] but I’m in danger of repeating all the logic I have used behind

So I’ve stopped.

Anyone else adding to this doc? Because I’d much rather collaborate and I think we are running out of time.


@William thanks heaps. Untied Nations is great. I can’t add at the moment but will be able to consider tomorrow. I’ve alerted @DavidOH that we’ve had to start again.


@Cindy @DavidOH I thought the deadline was today?
I can be about tomorrow and happy to Skype of Zoom or whatever to chat - it sometimes helps speed up thinking in a group.
What sort of time will you be around? I’m in the UK so an hour behind you (both).