Freshwater harmful algal bloom (FHAB) season is here. In lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams across the country tiny microorganisms are reproducing in mass. Spurred on by the heat and high concentrations of nutrients, blue-green algae (also called cyanobacteria) form a thick green scum on the surface of water bodies. This scum is not only foul-smelling and unsightly, it’s also dangerous to people, pets, and wildlife. Some types of cyanobacteria produce toxins that cause people who come into contact with them to become sick and, in severe cases, even die.
In this guest blog, Michael Young and Vianey Rueda discuss the importance of and need for cities to modernize water data. Using stakeholder engagement to incorporate local knowledge, the partners in this project in Boerne, TX, gained important perspectives, ideas, and approaches to inform the creation of the Internet of Water’s first municipal water data hub.
Water data have an enormous potential to enhance sustainability, improve management, and inform decision-making when they are freely available and easily accessible. “Open data”, as it’s called, is especially useful when it is consolidated in a single, open platform or data hub from which data can easily be searched, downloaded, republished, and otherwise utilized as needed.
Cassidy White discusses data fragmentation and the challenges it creates for modern water management, and lays out 7 key benefits to data integration. “Seemingly everywhere and nowhere at once, water data may be widespread but is often difficult to find or is completely inaccessible…”
With access to the water data they need, water leaders and decision-makers can implement sustainability measures and improved management strategies to ensure water is available to meet the needs of a changing and growing society.
We find ourselves – at a personal, organizational, and cultural level – asking ourselves how did we get here? And, where are we going? These are important, shaping questions that I hope we can all pause and ponder for ourselves.