The American West is facing one of the worst droughts on record. The 2014 drought has already cost the state of California $2.2 billion and 17,000 jobs. While water-related climate change challenges are great – the U.S. Water Partnership (USWP) recognizes that they are solvable. Doing so, however, will require immediate and unprecedented collaboration to harness the expertise, resources and ingenuity of the private sector, government and civil society. Access to information is a critical first step for developing solutions.
Improving access to data and enabling open exchange of water information is fundamental to identifying and understanding existing water resources issues. The data landscape is constantly growing and the Open Water Data Initiative continues to develop a national framework for data exchange. As part of its contribution to the Open Water Data Initiative the U.S. Geological Survey developed a new interactive California Drought visualization website. This exemplifies of how open data paired with information technology (IT) innovation helps describe and communicate today’s pressing water challenges.
At the 2014 ACES: A Community on Ecosystems Services conference, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced the release of two new hubs of datasets on “Ecosystem Vulnerability” and “Water” to a crowd of more than 500 scientists, managers and government officials from 30 countries. These two new hubs are part of the President’s Climate Data Initiative (CDI) to improve accessibility of government data and information to build resilience across our water systems. There is an opportunity for innovators to work with these datasets to inform solutions.
CDI is an effort to leverage extensive open Federal data to spur innovation and private-sector entrepreneurship in order to advance awareness of and preparedness for the impacts of climate change. One recent example is he new interactive California Drought visualization website released by the U.S. Geological Survey. To date, the CDI has engaged a range of private, philanthropic and academic partners to make commitments to mobilizing climate data for action, including Google, Intel, The Coca-Cola Company, IBM, Walmart, Microsoft, the World Bank, Rockefeller Foundation, the U.S. Water Partnership, and many others. A fact sheet describing all the commitments for the food resilience theme is available here. The factsheet describing the recent set of commitments under the ecosystems and water theme is available here.
The U.S. Geological Survey shared datasets on stream flow, water quality, groundwater, and water use from 1.5 million sites across the United States. Other key contributors include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Land Data Assimilation models for soil moisture and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center’s historical precipitation data.
The USWP delivered the first part of its commitment when it launched H2infO at the U.S. State Department in early October 2014. H2infO offers a catalytic platform to access thousands of resources with an expanding library. Meeting these commitments will build local, regional and national capacity to build resilience to climate change and improve water resources management.
To learn more about the Open Water Data Initiative, please contact Nate Booth, Chief, Office of Water Information, USGS at firstname.lastname@example.org.