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Follow the drilling with Fractracker, datatools for the shale play--check it out!

A unique online tool is tracking the gas fracing activity and encouraging the collaboration of researchers and environmentalists across three states.

Developed by University of Pittsburgh, Fractracker.org is a central clearinghouse for all things Marcellus Shale. Want to know exactly where the wells are? There's an up-to-date interactive map. (Try it below!) Interested in gas extraction incidents and infractions? Click on the regularly updated list. The site hopes to put all the available information in one place from New York to Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The site was launched by Pitt's Center for Healthy Environments & Communities (CHEC), hosted by the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds and created by Rhiza Labs on the South Side, the folks who brought us online Swine Flu map tracking technology. Fractracker was funded by The Heinz Endowments.

"Our real purpose is to develop a network of concerned people through the use of tools that address issues that have a real impact on all of our lives," explains Chuck Christen, director of operations for CHEC.

Fractracker allows researchers across many disciplines to collaborate directly with communities and citizens in the collection and analysis of data, with the potential to significantly influence future research and policy formulation, Christen adds.

"This is the first time a multi-state coalition has gotten together to share data and methodologies," says Josh Knauer, CEO of Rhiza. "This didn't exist out west. We would be thrilled to have the drillers share their data so everyone knows what we are getting ourselves into."

CHEC has scheduled training sessions for local organizations, researchers and individuals interested in participating in data collection. The next session in Pittsburgh will be held on July 22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 100 Technology Drive in the Bridgeside Point Building.

Spread the word. The more organizations that participate, the more comprehensive the information, says Christen. Email or call CHEC at 412-624-9379.

Writer: Debra Diamond Smit
Source: Chuck Christen, University of Pittsburgh; Josh Knauer, Rhiza Labs

Map courtesy of Rhiza Labs

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