At the end of last week, we pulled the trigger on the new inletkeeper.org for our friends at Cook Inletkeeper in Homer, Alaska. It’s almost certainly the last major website I’ll launch as a staffer at Groundwire, and while it’s definitely a little bittersweet, I couldn’t be more proud of the results here. In many ways, it’s a pretty typical “state of the art” website for a small conservation organization. Plone makes that pretty easy these days. But the trick I’m most proud of, both strategically and technically, is the “Weather & Tides” feature.
The staff at Cook Inkeeper dreamed up this “engagement superpower” in the course of living and working in, on and around the waters of Cook Inlet. In Alaska, the weather is big, just like everything else. And so are the tides. And while there’s a ton of information about the weather and tides available online, it’s pretty scattered across different sites, and there’s no “single source” that pulls together all of the “must have” information for Cook Inlet residents. That’s where we came in.
Inletkeeper staffer Michael Sharp, himself an avid sailor and surfer (when he’s not rocking campaign & communications strategy), identified the various sources for terrestrial and marine weather forecasts and current conditions data, and showed us a really cool iPhone app for generating tide predictions. We took a look at the data sources–yep, all easy-to-parse RSS and XML. And even better, it turned out that the tide prediction software underneath the iPhone app was open-source!
A few other nice details we managed to work in:
- The tide graph also includes a perpetual tide table, formatted to look just like Cook Inletkeeeper’s popular print tide tables booklet.
- Cook Inletkeeper staff can point-and-click to edit the list of weather and tide stations shown.
- Cook Inletkeeper staff can automatically “hot-link” to custom settings, great for customized email marketing outreach.
- “Recommend on Facebook” button
One of the things I will miss most about Groundwire is the thrill of being able to help conceive and create fun, effective tools like that help environmental groups engage their audiences.