Project Report:
Adding New Features on to Promote Civic Action
- Investigates the causes of economic imbalances.
- Explores and develops market-based solutions.


We plan to build out the capacity of, a free online data portal that we created for collecting and sharing crowdsourced environmental data, to meet the growing needs of numerous organizations that are collecting information and observations on the environment, especially as it relates to climate change. Anecdata already has many valuable features including mapping, photo up loading and archiving, and data visualization through graphing. In preparation for adding communication and civic action tools to promote a “Data to Action” ethos among project participants, we conducted a needs analysis of multiple King Tides and other Sea Rise projects in the US.

Map of interview sites and project partners
Map of interview sites and project partners.


To build effective online tools that help to promote communication and civic action, we needed to better understand the current state of efforts to involve citizens in documenting sea level rise. We decided to conduct interviews and surveys of project leaders and participants involved in King Tides and other coastal resiliency projects. We conducted 8 interviews with project leaders from Oregon King Tides, Washington King Tides, Hawaii and Pacific Island King Tides, Gulf of Maine King Tides, Harpswell King Tides, and South Carolina Aquarium’s Sea Rise projects. We also developed and launched a pilot survey for citizen science program participants to collect descriptive information about coastal resilience project design and communication needs.

This pilot study helped us identify and select two projects (New England Aquarium and South Carolina Aquarium) that would allow us to begin to understand how communication shapes these programs and their needs for civic action tools to help link citizen science data with coastal decision making. These interviews revealed a need to provide project participants with ways to share ideas, provide peer-to-peer encouragement and support, and build community. Our pilot research revealed that program participants are generally not in contact with each other and do not have opportunities to learn from each other, share information, or plan actions. However, project leaders did indicate an interest in doing so, and do believe that action would be predicated on effective communication.

From our project manager interviews, we identified several projects that were making progress in moving "Data to Action”. Our intention in creating effective online tools for communication and civic action is to provide citizens with the knowledge, training and tools to help others achieve this type of progress in their own communities. Below are some things we learned from our interviews:

1. Geo-tagged photos Oregon King Tides Project were used by Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development GIS staff to develop coastal nuisance flooding models as well sea level rise models in all their estuaries. The King Tide data were used as both input and for validation of various modeling scenarios.

2. Mayoral offices of Oahu and Maui made proclamations in 2018 requiring all city and county departments to take sea level rise into consideration in all their activities. Co-leaders of the Hawai`i and Pacific Islands King Tides Project noted this as a major accomplishment resulting from their outreach and education efforts

3. Another impact of the Hawai`i and Pacific Islands King Tides Project at the state level is the "Hawai`i Sea Level Rise Vulnerability and Adaptation Report", which was officially accepted by the State Climate Commission in December of 2017. This report includes photos from the Hawai`i and Pacific Islands King Tides Project.

The data collected during this pilot study informed an NSF AISL grant re-submission in November 2018. We are still waiting to hear about funding.

Preview of new Anecdata tools
Preview of new Anecdata tools


Investigate Causes of Economic Imbalances: Economic imbalances exist where climate change and other environmental problems affect human health, safety, and livelihoods. is an online tool to help individuals and organizations create projects, and collect, share, and visualize data in order to mitigate problems, effect change, and address economic imbalances in communities.

Explore and Develop Market-Based Solutions: will help organizations explore and develop market-based solutions to problems like sea level rise, ocean acidification, and coastal flooding. The Anecdata software has applications beyond collecting environmental data and can be used to crowdsource information in public health or economics, for example, on emerging diseases or costs associated with climate change.

Scope is a “next-generation” online data portal, with unique feature sets. We have made the site free and openly available for other organizations to create citizen science and other projects, invite users, and manage and share environmental data. The site is already host to 64 projects from around the world. Several of these relate directly (the King Tides projects) or indirectly (the Eelgrass in Maine project) to addressing impacts of climate change. Anecdata has the potential to host hundreds if not thousands of projects. We plan to build out the capacity of to meet the growing data management needs of numerous organizations working on the front lines of environmental change. In order to promote “Data to Action”, we will add new communication and civic action tools to the website. In addition, we plan to implement a commercialization strategy for our mobile app by which we can generate revenue to support as a free site for all users.

Information Dissemination

We are planning to publish the work from our interviews. We attended the Citizen Science Association meeting in Raleigh North Carolina March 13-17, 2019 and hosted a workshop on Coastal Resilience. This workshop brought together project leaders to share information and approaches to engaging citizens in addressing the issue of shoreline inundation due to sea level rise. King Tides and related coastal resilience projects generally involve citizens taking pictures at the time of extreme high tides with the aim of raising awareness about coastal change, focusing on already observable sea level rise and its impacts on coastal infrastructure. Other projects use other approaches. The panel of project leaders and participants discussed their approaches to engaging citizens in documenting and sharing the impacts of sea level rise and extreme storm events in their communities. Topics of discussion included participant motivation, communication between participants and project leaders, online platforms for collecting information, features and tools that promote citizen engagement, and ways in which of the various King Tides and related projects are able to link citizen science data with municipal and state decision making with regard to coastal flooding risk.

Panelist included:
Jane Disney, Ph.D., MDI Biological Laboratory
Christi Hughes, South Carolina Aquarium
Aimee Bonanno, New England Aquarium
Juliet Pinto, Ph.D., Penn State University
Abby Roche, University of Maine

Over 30 people attended the workshop.

Amount Approved
$28,000.00 on 8/1/2018 (Check sent: 8/27/2018)

  Related Organizations
MDI Biological Laboratory  

Anecdata Screen Shot

Citizen Science Association Presentation (PDF)
Preview of new Anecdata tools
Map of interview sites and project partners
Anecdata Screen Shot

159 Old Bar Harbor Road
Bar Harbor , ME 04609

After driving onto Mt. Desert Island, bear left to stay on Route 3. Drive about 4 miles, then turn left onto Old Bar Harbor Road at sign for the Lab. Turn left again onto Biol Lab Road and continue straight to parking area.

(207) 288-9880 ext 125


Dr. Jane Disney
Eelgrass Project Co-Manager
Judy Sproule
Deputy Director of Development, Mt. Desert Island Biological Laboratory

Posted 3/28/2018 5:49 PM
Updated   6/6/2019 4:11 PM

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