How accessible are our lakes?

Category: Best data-driven reporting (small and large newsrooms)

Country/area: Austria

Organisation: Addendum.org

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 15/07/2019

Credit: Danijel Beljan, Stefanie Braunisch, Gerald Gartner, Markus Hametner

Project description:

Private versus public access to lakeshores is a hot topic in Austria. It’s relevant both for residents close to the lakes and for the tourism sector. There are vast differences in public access to lakes and regular discussions on the topic, but no one had taken a data-based look at the issue and made numerical comparisons. We wanted to answer the question: how does the share of publicly-accessible shore compare between similar lakes?

Impact reached:

Local newspapers reported on our story and new public discussions were ignited.

Techniques/technologies used:

We walked Austria’s 11 largest lakes – as close as possible to the shore – and used a GPS app to mark the beginning and end of publicly-accessible areas. We then cleaned up the geodata using QGIS and visualized it using an Instagram-Story-inspired mobile-first format. We also researched the regulations regarding public access and compared them across regions.

What was the hardest part of this project?

The data collection was a boots on the ground effort, and quite straining in parts, since some lakes are in quite mountainous regions.
It was also the team’s first project where we collected our own geodata, so getting that process up and running was new territory for us.

What can others learn from this project?

Collecting the data missing for an ongoing public discussion can be worth it, especially if it’s geodata for locally relevant topics.

Project links: