Foundations Support Internet of Water Launch

The Internet of Water, a new project to improve our nation’s water data infrastructure, has been awarded start-up support by six foundations.

The S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the Kingfisher Foundation, The Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation, the Pisces Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and the Water Funder Initiative collectively awarded Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions $1 million in grant funding.

“Our water world is data rich, but information poor,” said Martin Doyle, director of the Nicholas Institute’s Water Policy Program and a professor of river science and policy at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment. “This funding will create game-changing opportunities to support real-time decision making on a broad scale.”

The funding supports the development of a national digital water data and information framework for sharing, integrating, and disseminating public, governmental data to characterize and forecast the quantity, quality, and uses of water across the United States.

The Internet of Water is an outgrowth of the 2015 Aspen-Nicholas Water Forum, which focused on water and big data, and was then followed by the Aspen Institute Dialogue Series on Sharing and Integrating Water Data for Sustainability—a convening of experts from different water sectors. These efforts, led in part by the Aspen Institute, Doyle and his Nicholas Institute colleague Lauren Patterson, provided key findings and recommendations regarding the challenges of and opportunities for developing the Internet of Water.

The subsequent report, The Internet of Water: Sharing and Integrating Water Data for Sustainability, found public agencies often collect data relevant to water management, but those data are often not openly shared across platforms, limiting their wide use.

“When water data are hard to discover or share across platforms, they are not put to additional uses to gain valuable insights that could revolutionize how we manage our water resources” said Patterson, senior policy associate in the Nicholas Institute’s Water Policy Program.