Data Stories

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Valuing Data

Without clear value propositions demonstrating how water data improves outcomes, investment in water data will remain minimal. Learn why data are hard to value and how to assess value.

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Share your own example of how water data led to better outcomes within your organization.

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Nicole Geri @ Unsplash

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (Water Authority) of Albuquerque, New Mexico has been expanding its advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) program since 2011. As of 2019, 49% of its 200,000 accounts have been replaced with AMI-enabled meters. The Water Authority harnesses the high-resolution water usage, along with other AMI data, to benefit their employees, customers, operations, and water resources.

The Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecasting (SSWSF) program’s data are widely used by agricultural communities, government agencies, private businesses, and recreationists to inform day-to day operations and broad decision-making. We compiled numerous case studies documenting the economic value of the SSWSF program to show the benefit-to-cost ratio for different users. We found that 38% of the time the benefits from a single case study more than covered annual program costs.

The National Weather Service is the primary source of public weather data and forecasts used to inform decision-making and mitigate losses from extreme weather. A willingness-to-pay survey and an impact analysis suggest the potential benefit-to-cost ratio is between $3 (includes forecasts from all federal and private agencies) and $15 (assumes most of the underlying data and forecasts come from the National Weather Service) of value for every $1 spent.