What is open data?

Our data policy in a nutshell…

If you choose to share your data on our platform, you remain the owner of your data but choose to share it with others. It becomes open data that anyone can have access to or download. It’s like anything else on the internet- once you upload it, it’s out there! Since you’re the owner of it though, you can take it down or change it at any time. If you’re not sure how to do this, please contact us, and we’ll help you out.

What is open data?

Open data refers to data being made freely available for anyone to see, download, and distribute without any legal or financial restrictions. In order for data to be truly “open”, it must be made both technically open, which means that it must be made easily accessible to its intended audience, and legally open, which means that it must be free and unrestricted for all users.

Why open data for water quality monitoring?

Water Rangers believes that when it comes to water, ignorance is anything but bliss. Making water quality data “open” means that people do not have to rely on government officials or on scientists to provide them with information regarding the health of their local water bodies. Instead, everyone is given the opportunity to take a look at and understand what’s going on with the water around them. What’s more, the open nature of our platform allows people to not only view the data that has been collected by others, but also contribute their own data, which augments the work that is being done by scientists across the country. While we still want to leave the “complicated” water quality testing to the professionals, we can help collect baseline data for water health parameters on a more spatially and temporally large scale than these professionals would be able to do on their own. 

Our open data policy

The long-term success of Water Rangers depends on the development of appropriate policies and practices for the management of data on our platform. If you have any questions or comments about our Data Policy, please feel free to contact us.

Use of this Policy

This Data Policy informs the governance of Water Rangers and the approach to managing the data contained within its platform.

You can definitely use our testkits without sharing your data online. That being said, if you receive equipment by participating in a study or from a grant, you should check with us before if you need to share your data or not. Sometimes it’s a condition of the grant that the data has to be shared online. 

Data Ownership

Those who upload data to our website maintain complete ownership of their data and agree to make it openly accessible (see Water Rangers Terms of Service for more information).


The following three principles are key components of Water Rangers’ Data Policy:

  1. Accessibility
  2. Data quality
  3. Security and sustainability

1. Accessibility 

Data is made available on an equal basis, fully, freely and openly, and in a timely way.

Water Rangers aims to open up access to the data contained within its platform as much as possible; thus, information contained on our data platform will be shared in an unrestricted way. As such, we do not currently charge a fee for the use of our data platform, and wee also discourage our users from using the data that is on our platform for financial gain.  

In order for information to be communicated to the Water Rangers audience clearly and in an accessible manner, plain language descriptions of all information contained on our website will be provided as much as possible. 

Please note that exemptions to this data policy, even for ethical reasons, are not allowable at this time, although this is something that we would like to incorporate into our platform in the future. Have an idea for what you might want this to look like? Please let us know, and we will make every effort to accommodate your needs as we continue to grow. 

2. Quality

Strive for completeness and the absence of errors in data.

Data on the Water Rangers platform undergoes a quality assurance/quality control process so that it can confidently be used to better understand water health. However, the accuracy of the data on the Water Rangers website cannot be guaranteed. The material on this site is provided for general information only and should not be relied upon or used as the sole basis for making decisions without consulting primary, more accurate, more complete or more timely sources of information. Water Rangers reserves the right to remove any observation data from its website should the quality of this data be unable to be verified, or if the data was gathered on private property without the property owner’s consent. For more information, please see our Terms of Service

Metadata (data that serves to provide context or additional information about other data) accompanying the data on Water Rangers’ platform includes limited information on the entity responsible for collecting data (in other words, the name of the group or individual who uploaded the data). However, observations are able to be uploaded anonymously. As we continue to grow, we anticipate including information on data quality including limitations to allow users to determine fitness for use/how the data can be used, as well as reference to data collection protocols, instruments or any other relevant information needed to replicate data collection. 

4. Security and Sustainability

The integrity and security of the data must be safeguarded against corruption and loss to ensure fitness for use over the short and long-term.

Planning over a long-term horizon ensures initial investments in data collection and management have enduring impacts and contribute to baseline datasets.

We host our platform on Heroku. Founded in 2007, Heroku is a service that helps hundreds of companies build, run and scale apps. It is “cloud-based”, which means that data is stored over the internet instead of on a hard-drive. Heroku provides constant threat monitoring and automatic operating system vulnerability checking in order to ensure that data is kept safe. Additionally, in order to ensure that nothing is lost, daily backups are performed, which allows us to retrieve our data if anything goes wrong. 

Water Rangers has been operating since 2015, and we plan on sticking around well into the future. This is made possible by the support of people like you!