More context for this question is here: https://publiclab.org/notes/wmacfarl/09-18-2019/oil-and-gas-hardware-fellow-introduction
Briefly: I am thinking about tool and project development for water quality monitoring around oil and gas pollution. In order to develop useful data-collection tools we need to know what kinds of things people want to use data for.
I can think of three general reasons that people and organizations collect this kind of environmental data but would love more insight and specifics. In particular I would really love to hear specific cases of community-collected data being useful, or circumstances when you have wished you had data that you didn't have and why you wanted it.
a) To answer _personal/community _questions: Is it safe to drink our water? Swim in this stream? Eat this fish that we caught? Are there certain times of year or kinds of events (such a rainstorms) that change these answers?
b) To advocate to a third party: Can we push for changing regulations, collect data to contradict an industry report that we don't believe, show that contamination is happening?
c) Curiosity/education/knowledge: Sometimes we aren't trying to do anything specific with information, but we want to have it for the sake of knowledge or we want to make it available because we suspect that someone else might want it. Making instrumentation and collecting data is an experience that helps people build technical confidence and data-literacy, both of which are valuable in lots of contexts, including environmental advocacy, even if the data itself is not.