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PHLASK is an Ecosystem for Finding and Sharing Water in Philadelphia

Water should remain abundant, clean and accessible to everyone.

PHLASK's mission is to help people find publicly available sources of water, and to impel private enterprises to provide public access to their water infrastructure - simply by PHLasking.

If you would like to help reduce the use of wasteful plastic bottles and increase access to water, please join the PHLASK Coalition!

www.phlask.me, hello@phlask.me

Project Activity

Update #6

Hello Code for Philly community! With the addition of several new team members over the past couple months, I wanted to share some project updates:


Current Project Flows

  1. Website PHLASK Map functionality – adding Legend filtering; adding tap filtering; embedding open/close times from Google to add accessibility information
  2. Website PHLASK Map UI/UX – How to display all of the tap data / pictures in the side bar; displaying filtering tools and interface
  3. Data management – updating PHLASK database; mapping PHLASK points
  4. Data crowdsourcing – students at WB Saul HS helping; develop crowdsourcing tool
  5. Water Quality – Engaging PWD to dismantle myths and misconceptions about tap water

Simmering Ideas

  1. Data – Aggregate information about water quality, plastic bottle consumption and taste preferences / water drinking habits
  2. Website Migration – containerize Wordpress site for Linode hosting
  3. PHLASK App – convert website map into downloadable PHLASK App
  4. Special Event Mapping – mapping water locations for special events (eg. Broad Street Run)

Pipedreams

  1. “Okay Google, PHLASK for water” Google assistant command
  2. New public tap water infrastructure
  3. PHLASK branded reusable bottles

Update from school visit:

[On March 20th] I visited the students at Walter B Saul High School to talk about their participation in the PHLASK Project and sustainability thinking. We watched “The Story of Stuff” on YouTube, which describes the current wasteful life cycle of consumerism and the need to shift to a more sustainable system for producing, consuming and reusing products. (If you haven’t watched it, I’d highly recommend it!) We then contextualized this with thinking about the life cycle of single-use water bottles and the comparative life cycle impacts vs simply drinking water from the tap. I think the students were pretty engaged at points and showed genuine concern for the issues.

For next steps, the students are going to start creating marketing materials and strategies to reach out to businesses. We did an interesting class survey to measure the students’ own water drinking habits, which I’m also hoping they will extend to the wider school community so that we can get even more data. We also left it a bit open-ended so that they can potentially approach this project from other creative angles.

If anyone is interested in working with the students directly, please reach out and let me know! The class’ teacher, Greg Smith, is very receptive to new ideas and additional ways to give hands-on experience to the students.


Plenty of Water II

Last year around this time, we had a little happy hour celebration at Plenty Café when they became the first Private-Shared point on the map. Since we have a growing team, it might be fun to have another happy hour so we can all hang out and learn more about one another. It could also be an opportunity to welcome other individuals to contribute ideas / help with other project vectors. Just wanted to put that on the radar so we could consider doing it sometime in April (United By Blue as the 2nd private-shared location could be a cool opportunity)


As always, we welcome anyone to the project who would like to get involved and help out. If you see something that strikes your interest or have other ideas, please reach out and join the #PHLASK channel on Slack.

Update #5

Happy New Year, Code for Philly community. Here are some updates on the PHLASK Project:

Drinking Water Working Group Meeting At the end of December, I attended a meeting of the newly formed Drinking Water Working Group, which has been convened to address people’s reluctance for drinking tap water. I gave a presentation of our efforts over the past year and talked about ways the PHLASK Project could buttress the new coalition’s mission. There were nearly 20 attendees, representing both city departments (PWD, PDPH, Zero Waste & Litter Cabinet, Managing Director’s Office) and several non-profit organizations. There is ample opportunity for us to use our existing work to guide cooperation with various members and subcommittees of the Drinking Water Working Group.

Potential opportunities include:

  • Recruiting students for data collection and Map/App testing
  • Public Water Testing
  • PHLASK Map for citywide events (marathons, concerts, etc.)

PHLASK Map - Now on Node Work has begun on migrating the PHLASK Map from the main PHLASK WordPress website to it’s own standalone Node.js application. This change allows for us to incorporate better version control protocols and to make changes and improvements live more quickly. We are currently in the process of matching the page style of the Node.js application to the old WordPress application and once complete the Node.js version will go live.

PHLASK Website migration With the assistance of Code for Philly organizers we are containerizing both the PHLASK WordPress websites and new Node.js PHLASK map through docker. Once containerized we will also be using Code for Philly web hosting through Linode to deploy our applications and website.

PHLASK Map / App UX/UI Design Project Newcomer Anna has brought an exciting new skillset to the team with her knowledge of UX/UI design. She is helping lead efforts to critically examine how people will interact with the PHLASK Map / App and create intuitive features. She is planning a transparent method to engage stakeholders and interested parties in contributing to the process. The current plan can be found here: PHLASK UX Research Plan


As always, we welcome support, contributions and feedback from anyone who would like to get involved.

Update #4

Hello Code for Philly community,

Mapping The PHLASK team has been actively working this spring to build the web map and mobile app features. We currently have about 40 verified PHLASK sites on the map, which include a mix of public, private-shared and private water taps. With the guidance of the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), Phila. Dept. of Public Health (PDPH) and Department of Public Property, we're hoping to incorporate more public access taps at places like libraries and rec centers in the coming month.

Water Tasting Event: May 14, 2018 Our previously scheduled water tasting event at the CHF was cancelled, but we have scheduled a new water tasting event in partnership with Mural Arts' Trash Academy at the upcoming "Plastic China" screening and discussion at the Free Library (Facebook Event). We've found that there are lots of misconceptions about our municipal water system vs. bottled water, and in our efforts to encourage more sustainable water-drinking habits we want to foster a broader reflection on these issues.


We continue to welcome both technical and organizational help in scaling the PHLASK project. Even though the overt 'deliverable' is a map and app to help people find water refill locations, there is a lot of additional grassroots work that goes into building capacity for the project. The ultimate goal of the PHLASK project is to "reduce dependence on single-use plastic bottles," which requires a broader cooperative effort beyond just programming, so please reach out and get involved if you're interested in the mission.

Sincerely,

PHLASK Team

www.phlask.me

Update #3

The PHLASK Project continues to evolve as new collaborators get involved and contribute to the water sharing initiative.

Mapping:

Taylor Johnson has taken the lead on our GIS mapping and database. His work has been an asset to the project. We are currently in the process of upgrading the mapping features to be more dynamic and integrated to our database of water-sharing locations.

Both the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) and Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) enthusiastically support the initiative. They are working to help us cull data from different City departments that can be compiled into the PHLASK water-sharing network.

Water Tasting / Testing Event:

We will be having an event at the Chemical Heritage Foundation to do a water tasting/testing event to try and dispel misconceptions about the public water system with data. Mural Arts' group Trash Academy will contribute programming around the waste generated by single-use plastic bottles.

Next Steps

We are looking to build capacity in the following areas:

  1. UX/UI development - improve how the data is displayed on the map
  2. PHP/Wordpress wizardry - integrate the map into the website and automate some of our databasing processes
  3. General marketing - add new sites to the PHLASK network of water-sharing sites and spread the word about water-sharing.

Taylor and I will be attending the Meetup tonight, January 30, to talk more about the project and solicit interest from the Code For Philly community.

All the best, Billy

P.S. Please feel free to join the #PHLASK channel on Slack to join the discussion and follow the project!

Update #2

Hey everyone, I took a bit of a hiatus from the project while I was away the past 2 weeks, but I'm back and in full water-sharing mode!

Tech:

We're currently figuring out how to setup a collaborative database that can be used to store, sort and lookup water sharing locations. Once the database is setup, we'll work on automating a process that can map all the locations

Non-tech:

I will be participating in PhillyCAM's People Power Hour to talk about PHLASK and environmental justice issues on Wednesday, Aug 16. The discussion will be broadcast on 106.5 FM and on Facebook. Info here:

PhillyCAM People Power Hour

We're also working on building capacity for marketing and chartering the PHLASK Co-op, which will be tasked with cooperatively maintaining the PHLASK network.

Please join the #PHLASK channel on slack to join the conversation!

Sincerely, Billy

Update #1

Today was the first time for visiting the Code for Philly community. Thank you to Chris for helping to curate the process and show me some of the ins-and-outs of working with the community and the technical interfaces.

The PHLASK project is still in its nascent stages from a technical perspective, but we've been very active engaging community participation. This past week, we partook in a Climate Change Discussion Group to talk about how the PHLASK Initiative can be a tangible solution to helping reduce waste, and is an important step towards Environmental Justice

Read this post for more info: PHLASKING for Environmental Justice

We've also met with people from Philadelphia Assembled, Blue Marble Solutions, and are in conversations with the Philadelphia Water Department and Jefferson University.

Looking forward to continuing the progress at the next Code for Philly Meetup.

Sincerely, Billy