Data to Action

Data is a powerful tool in helping us to understand the state of our waterways and communities, and – if put to action – it can also amplify our findings to create change. What is “Data to Action” exactly? River Network interprets it as:

Using data or other community generated information to take action at the intersection of science and policy to advocate for change at the federal, state, and local levels to better protect rivers, streams, and communities.

No matter how it’s defined, the importance is in the action. Whether it’s policy, regulations, community engagement, or education, data can be used in many ways to effect change.

Community science, community-led research, and advocacy can join forces to highlight gaps, raise issues, and engage local residents in finding creative avenues toward solutions.  In the examples below, learn how groups in Philadelphia and New York put their data to action to improve issues central to their communities. Bartram’s Garden’s water quality monitoring program in Southwest Philadelphia used their bacteria data to highlight significant gaps in state-level assessments and took part in their state’s Clean Water Act public process. Groups in New York collected trash data and gained valuable insights on the types of trash entering their waterways, which they are using to advocate for Styrofoam and plastic reductions in their communities.

River Network also has resources on data visualization tools and techniques, and how to tell stories with your data for different audiences. These are key tools in moving from analysis to action.