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Speeding up water planning using the cloud

April 4, 2017

Woman standing at edge of well
Water resource planning using up-to-date information will be increasingly important in developing countries.

It’s no secret that global water resources are under growing pressure, with growing populations, global politics and competing interests, and environmental factors like climate change demanding increasingly complex policy responses and management regimes.

The information needed to inform such responses has traditionally only come by way of lengthy and resource-intensive water resource assessments and modelling. The sorts of data that come from these processes are extremely rich—allowing for accurate and detailed observations and models to be made about a water resource—but this level of complexity often means it requires expertise beyond that of policy makers to use and interpret them.

Even with the right expertise on hand, there may not always be sufficient time and resourcing to conduct such assessments before crucial decisions on water resources need to be made, particularly in developing countries.

Currently, there are few technologies to support rapid water assessments, and none that provide end-to-end solutions i.e. that can be used from defining the problem, right through to delivering scenarios for policy options.

Our new Water Cloud tool, a collaboration between Land & Water and Data61, looks set to disrupt this situation and its exciting potential has been acknowledged by The World Bank—Water Cloud has just won the 2017 World Bank Big Data Innovation Challenge in the Forests and Watersheds category.

Screenshot of online platform
The Water Cloud platform is cloud based and easy to use.

Water Cloud is able to draw upon the multitude of water data being generated right around the world, for analysis in one easy-to-use cloud-based platform. It accesses major global datasets, such as HydroSHEDS, Princeton Climate Surfaces and the Food and Agriculture Organisations (FAO) databases, to provide a picture of water distribution in basins around the world, to allow planning scenarios for new infrastructure and water management practices to be examined and to explore social, environmental and economic trade-offs.

Its impact will be in its ability to help speed up the policy cycle in times of urgency, narrow down policy options using cost-benefit analyses, and deliver a cheap, no frills solution in the absence of existing solutions.

The Water Cloud aims to improve planning and investment in water to improve livelihood, food security, energy, socio-economic and environmental outcomes. It has particularly strong potential for application in developing countries and could help Australian deliver on its commitments to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Water Cloud technical principles

  • A light weight cloud-based system, as a locally hosted application or delivery of software as a service
  • Uses public national and global data services to assist users get results fast
  • Scales between basin to catchment
  • Utlilises local capacity, delivering accessible technology to water planners in developing and developed economies
  • Treats water as a connected resource, considering surface and groundwater, which varies as a consequence of climate.

For more information about Water Cloud contact the project team:

Amit Parashar
India: +91 8130 443 332
Aus: +61 416 371 071
email: amit.parashar@csiro.au

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