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Sprints

Learn about sprints and how we tackle national challenges.

Sprints are 12-week product development cycles that bring together tech teams and collaborators to build public-facing digital products using open data.

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Problem Statement

Aiding Agricultural Decision-Making

Challenge:

Create digital tools that provide farmers, ranchers, and researchers with timely access to National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) data to help them make important agricultural and planning decisions.

Why This Problem is Important:

Food is a necessity for survival, and our American agriculture system provides food to both the American people and the world. The ability to visualize and develop solutions to catastrophic events such as flooding, tornados, and plant disease, as well as planning considerations such as diminishing agricultural lands, natural resource distribution, disease mapping, and land conservation are key to ensuring the strength and resilience of food supply.

Agency

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Target Audience

Farmers, ranchers, engaged citizens, rural or tribal communities, emergency managers, state and local government, federal agencies, university researchers.

Problem Statement

Developing Markets for Recycled Materials

Challenge:

Develop innovative digital solutions that connect domestic recycling facilities with manufacturers to enhance recycling markets and increase the use of recycled materials.

Why This Problem is Important:

Recycling facilities, ranging from those operated by large waste management corporations to smaller, family-owned facilities, process the nearly 70M tons of material that Americans throw into their recycling bins each year. While international markets were historically significant purchasers of materials from these U.S. recycling facilities, recent years have seen tightening of international markets, due largely to contamination of traditional recycling streams by newer products (e.g., plastic bags, flexible pouches, and lithium batteries), which our outdated recycling infrastructure is ill-equipped to manage. Many recycling facilities are unable to fill the gap left by international markets, as they are not connected to domestic manufacturers (e.g., paper mills, bottling plants) that have demand for using these recycled materials in new products. These dynamics have contributed to recycling programs across the country shrinking or even shutting down.

Agency

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Target Audience

U.S. recycling facilities and manufacturers looking to produce, sell, and buy quality recycled materials; rural or tribal communities; organizations and state and local governments striving to improve their recycling facilities and infrastructure.

Problem Statement

Reducing Plastic Pollution in Oceans

Challenge:

Create open data sets and engaging digital tools that complement existing citizen science plastics data, to help the public understand the amount of plastic on local beaches and in the ocean, where such plastic comes from, and actions that can be taken to alleviate the problem.

Why This Problem is Important:

Ocean plastics directly impact more than 800 species world-wide. Further, because plastics never completely degrade, microplastics in the environment threaten human as well as environmental health. Participation in citizen science shows that the public clearly cares. Citizen scientists do not always stay engaged and keep sharing data over time. In addition, citizen science volunteers do not always have access to contextual information on why plastic might be there and what they can do. The lack of data on plastics pollution and related information prevents citizen scientists and the public policy community from fully understanding the extent of the problem and making informed choices to reduce the growing threat of plastic pollution to human and environmental health.

Agency

U.S. Department of State, The Wilson Center

Target Audience

Engaged citizens passionate about reducing plastic pollution, rural or tribal communities, as well as policymakers, advocates, and researchers

Problem Statement

Increasing Awareness of Emissions’ Effects on Air Quality

Challenge:

Create tools to help communities understand how motorized vehicle and equipment transportation contributes to emissions, local air quality, and health, as well as the actions available to lessen these impacts.

Why This Problem is Important:

Transportation emissions make up almost one-third of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to air pollution that have significant health ramifications. Every year, 7 million people worldwide die from air pollution. Furthermore, 80 percent of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution breathe in air that exceeds WHO guideline limits. Communities’ choices about the transportation of their members as well as everyday goods play a significant role in air pollution, but it is difficult to convey this type of information easily to the public, as well as to point to actions that individuals can take to help. It is hard to take action even when one wants to.

Product Outcome

A screenshot of the product with the title 'Assessment of Air Quality and Traffic Volume'. The app is set for Washington, D.C., and you have the option to sort by the day, the ward, and the location.

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Agency

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Target Audience

Engaged citizens and the general public, especially those at higher risk for respiratory illnesses (e.g., individuals over 65, children, those with respiratory ailments), urban populations and communities (e.g., high transportation traffic areas), rural or tribal communities, and motorized vehicles users.