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Help us with User Research for our Groundwater Visualization

This summer we are doing the “Summer of Groundwater.” We are working to make groundwater more understandable for Californians.

We are looking for volunteer user researchers to help make this project really valuable and easy-to-use for all Californians.

Why is matters

This is especially important because important regulations are in the process of going into place because our groundwater aquifers are being depleted in an unsustainable manner (because we are in a drought, among other reasons.)

Open process

In our efforts to work on this New California Water Atlas, we are working in a public and collaborative manner to design and build this groundwater interactive. In addition to doing it this just because we can and want to and because it’s more democratic and empowering, it also serves as an opportunity to teach ways of making complex information understandable to a broad audience.

Volunteer Opportunity

We are looking for user researchers who might be interested in volunteering to help us reach out to our audiences to get critical feedback on early prototypes. Bay Area preferred, maybe meeting up in person or on Skype a few times. Perks include working with the mentorship of the world’s leading water researchers in a growing community of people who get things done. We are fundraising, so there are opportunities to get funding, but it’s not guaranteed and that could take months.

Our first project

Right now, we are finalizing this “logic tree” of map interactions based on questions that we can answer about the status of groundwater in California. This is based on interviewing water researchers who are very familiar with the problems and what is going on in governments and science. This also pairs with the availability of data — which is kind of crappy and spotty.

Building community of feedback & outreach

We want to get this logic model and future map prototypes in front of Californians (people in cities but also farmers, well owners, water managers, government planners, legislators, community health organizers and others who tell the story of groundwater.)

We want to build a community of Californians who will help give feedback. A challenge is that California is a big state, and we have a number of different audiences. We need help organizing this and reaching out.

Creating a template for others

We should say that one focus we have is on building capacity for others to reuse what we do, to tell custom stories. We are as much making base map layers as putting basic data on the map. We have a limited scope for the summer because we want to make sure that we are creating opportunities to build upon, and not necessarily to impress anyone with a map of the entire groundwater system of California. Also, that is not possible because we do not have the data because no one collects it, since it is not regulated.


Contact us soon!

info at statewater dot org, or comment below. Please send a cover letter and resume or link to LinkedIn. Please let us know why you are interested, what you might like to do, and tell us about your approach. This is our first outreach to get help with the project, so apologies in advance if we are less than graceful. Based on responses we will be able to see how the different interested parties fit together and will let you know sometime before July what the story is. If not this project, or if this isn’t a good time, still please reach out, there will be more opportunities, and we would like to stay in touch.

Is your UX/Research organization interested?

If there is a lot of interest, we will help organize something. If there is a community of UX Researchers who want to get involved that would be awesome too. This project is a ‘public work.’ We can try to help your organization get a grant to support work, too.

The entire New California Water Atlas will need UX support, so there are a lot of possible opportunities. But we are just doing 1 project right now. Gotta start small.

Thanks for reading this. Feel free to pass it on and forward tweets to @CAStateWater or use the #cawater hashtag (which we are squatting.)


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