Remote telemetry has a long history at the USGS and other hydrologic monitoring organizations, enabling real-time hydrologic data presentation on the Web. Citizen volunteers have also long contributed to hydrologic data–Wisconsin’s USGS and Wisconsin State Geological and Natural History Survey (WGNHS) groundwater network has nearly 100 volunteers participating. Ubiquitous short message service (SMS) messaging and email-capable mobile phones mean nearly everyone can provide telemetric data if they know what information to provide and the infrastructure to accept the information exists: this is “crowdsourcing.”

Crowdhydrology.org, a crowdsourcing project originating in New York State, USA, was implemented by posting signs near stream staff gages inviting passersby to send SMS messages reporting the value they read on the gage. Social.Water is a tool developed to automatically accept and interpret these messages, generate data tables and graphical results, and post them on the Web.