Data Refuge is a public, collaborative initiative founded by the Penn Program in Environmental Humanities and Penn Libraries that builds refuge for federal environmental and climate data. 

Data refuge Stories

Data Refuge launched November 2016 in Philadelphia to draw attention to how climate denial endangers federal environmental data. With the help of thousands of civic partners and volunteers, the project has rapidly spread to over fifty cities and towns across the country. Now, Data Refuge is building a storybank to document how data lives in the world – and how it connects people, places, and non-human species. Find out more about Data Stories from Data Refuge.

With a grant from the National Geographic Society, the Storytelling Builds Data Refuge project sustains the bucket brigades of Data Rescuers' efforts to preserve existing federal climate and environmental data by documenting how that data is put to work in local communities. 


Building Data Refuge

Data Refuge addresses the following concerns about federal climate and environmental data:

  • What are the best ways to safeguard data?
  • How do federal agencies play crucial roles in data collection, management, and distribution?
  • How do government priorities impact data’s accessibility?
  • Which projects and research fields depend on federal data?
  • Which data sets are of value to research and local communities, and why?

Data Refuge is also an initiative committed to identifying, assessing, prioritizing, securing, and distributing reliable copies of federal climate and environmental data so that it remains available to researchers. Data collected as part of the Data Refuge initiative will be stored in multiple, trusted locations to help ensure continued accessibility.

Data Refuge acknowledges--and in fact draws attention to--the fact that there are no guarantees of perfectly safe information. But there are ways that we can create safe and trustworthy copies. DataRefuge is thus also a project to develop the best methods, practices, and protocols to do so.

Data Refuge depends on local communities. We work in partnership with Environmental Data Governance Initiative (EDGI), Climate Mirror, ProjectARCC, and with local collaborators at #ProtectClimateData and other Data Rescue events. 

To learn more about Data Refuge, visit here


Data Rescue Philly 

January 13-14, 2017 

University of Pennsylvania Library 

3420 Walnut Street. Philadelphia, PA 19104

Schedule of Public Events: 

January 13th

Date/um Opens (ambulatory for the Annenberg Center for Performing Arts, 3680 Walnut Street). This mobile archive-as-mobile-installation will be open until February 12th.  Date/um explores the problem of data, and the date as one kind of datum, exploring the often incommensurable kinds of data given and taken along the tidal Schuylkill River. 

12-1:30pm Teach-In on DataRefuge and Environmental Justice (Class of '55 Room, Second Floor of Van Pelt Library) This conversation, called "Humanizing Data: Climate and Environmental Data and Environmental Justice," will be facilitated by Britt Dahlberg (Director, Center for Applied History at the Chemical Heritage Foundation), Peter DeCarlo (Assistant Professor, Chemistry; Drexel University), Etienne Benson (Assistant Professor, History and Sociology of Science; Penn) and Kimberly Thomas (Post-Doc Teaching Fellow, Earth and Environmental Sciences and Humanities Forum; Penn). This is the first teach-in in Philadelphia Resistance Meeting Series throughout the spring semester. 

1:30-4pm DataRescue Guide Training (Class of '55 Room, Second Floor of Van Pelt Library) Refuge Guides will lead working groups for the creative code-a-thon on the 14th. Working groups will concentrate on jobs ranging from feeding; to seeding the End of Term Harvest, both with individual urls and in bulk; to writing about the data refuge project; to social media; to still other public engagement projects connected to Data Refuge. Learn more about the event and tasks that need to be accomplished (and get a spiffy Refuge Guide t-shirt). Please RSVP if you can volunteer.    

4-5:45pm  Roundtable on DataRefuge Value and Vulnerability (Class of 1978 Pavilion, The Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, 6th Floor Van Pelt Library). Confirmed speakers includeJefferson Bailey (Director, Internet Archive), Robert Cheetham (President/CEO, Azavea), Michael Halpern (Deputy Director, Union of Concerned Scientists), Michelle Murphy (Professor of History and Women and Gender Studies, University of Toronto; EDGI), and Sarah Wu (Deputy Director for Planning, Office of Sustainability, City of Philadelphia); moderated by Bethany Wiggin (Founding Director, Penn Program in Environmental Humanities; Associate Professor of German, UPenn).  This event will be videorecorded.  

5:30-6:30pm Reception (The Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, 6th Floor Van Pelt Library) Beverages and light bites.  

January 14th 

10am-5pm DataRescue A Creative Coding and Archive-a-thon (The Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, 6th Floor Van Pelt Library) There will be activities for people with all skill levels, including seeding the End of Term Harvest Project, downloading, describing, and uploading datasets, and creating new tools to make web scraping and archiving for this project easier. We will be providing breakfast, coffee throughout the day, and a pizza lunch.  

Please come for the whole thing or times that work for you! Lunch and Coffee will be provided. Cool buttons too. Please bring:

Your computer and charger
Energy and Excitement

2:00-3:00pm Date/um A Special Walk-Through of the Installation led by Lead Curator, Patricia Kim (ambulatory for the Annenberg Center for Performing Arts, 3680 Walnut Street) Join the artists, scientists, scholars, activists, and community members whose work makes Date/um and points the way toward collaborative and just archives for environmental and climate data. 

3:00-4:00pm Reception for Contributors to Date/um (The Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, 6th Floor Van Pelt Library) Invited guests will walk together from the Date/um walk-through to the Data Refuge creative code-a-thon in Van Pelt Library.