Crisis Commons releases open source oil spill reporting

oil-reporter.11-174x300.pngCrisis Commons has released a new open data initiative to enable response organizations to report from the oil spill. Oil Reporter allows response workers to capture and share data with the public as they respond to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

“The cool thing about the app is that the photos and information will be open to anyone to use,” said Heather Blanchard, co-founder of Crisis Commons. “We want response organizations to use it. They can localize the app with their own logo and add data elements, thus expanding the API. They can be assigned a code so they can compare their data with the public. We believe the data with codes would be more of a verified set, as they would be response organizations and their volunteers using those codes.”

These smartphone apps allow response workers to take geotagged photographs, record video, and enter text and basic data elements, like instances of oil and affected wildlife. The Oil Reporter app provides official phone numbers to report oiled beaches, wildlife and volunteer information links.

Oil Reporter uses an open API for greater information sharing. Response organizations wishing to expand data elements of the API can do so by requesting customization through the match program. All data provided by the response organizations and those using Oil Reporter is public data.

Data collected utilizing the Oil Reporter mobile applications will be managed by San Diego State University’s Visualization Center. Dr. Eric Frost will lead a team to provide visualization tools and products based on the Oil Reporter data. Response organizations requiring assistance will be able to submit a request via for volunteer visualization and analytics support.

Organizations can adopt and customize the code for Oil Reporter as needed, including adding data collection elements. Oil Reporter mobile application source code is publicly available on GitHub for reuse and customization. Response organizations that want to create an Oil Reporter app can make a request for help from volunteer mobile developers.

More details about the development of the app and the many people who worked on it over the past weeks can be found at the Crisis Commons blog post on Oil Reporter.

You can follow @OilReporter on Twitter or Facebook. As pictures and videos are added, watch the Oil Reporter Flickr group and Oil Reporter YouTube channel.

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  • Sam

    I hope it starts to get some content soon! Especially to Youtube!

  • connors1

    Another “open” initiative, in response to the oil spill, is InnoCentive’s “Emergency Response 2.0 : Solutions to Respond to Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico”. InnoCentive has tapped its open innovation marketplace for scientific solutions. Thus far, 1528 project rooms have been opened.

  • MichaelD

    Echoing Sam’s comment above, the Oil Reporter Flickr group link seems to go nowhere. If anyone has updated info to what Alex Howard published above (thanks for your efforts, Alex), can you please post? Many thanks. / Michael

  • Alex Howard

    The Flickr link resolves correctly, at least for me, at

    As of this moment, it simply seems that no one has posted to it.


    Built by developers from Intridea, Inc in 3 days! Kudos guys! Just awesome!

  • sumin has a Eco friendly solution to clean up the tragedy British Petroleum has created, please watch the video animation:

    and pass this along to as many people as you know.

    One person can still make a difference in this world, is that simple interactions have a rippling effect. Each time this gets pass along, the hope in cleaning our planet is passed on.