Create your own data: using sensors for journalism

Matt Waite writes on The Source about building cheap drought sensors that individually track your backyard’s drought status and collectively paint a picture of a city’s weather conditions.

The problem with most news apps and data journalism is that they rely on the government to produce the data. If the government keeps numbers and you can pry it loose, game on. But what happens when the government doesn’t keep the data? Or you have a reason to believe it’s fatally flawed? Or what if you just want more?

When faced with this problem, most journalists will shrug their shoulders and give up. No data, no story, right? There are examples of journalists developing their own data, but few of them do it on a large scale.

Sensors open up a whole new world of data to journalists–data they themselves collect. That idea has both mundane and profound impacts. Journalists building their own devices means they’re taking a giant leap up in authority–from the device’s construction and capabilities to the data itself. There’s no source to call about the data becauseĀ you are the source. And, you decide the scale of your data.

Read the rest here.