The Internet of Water Coalition envisions a nation engaged in equitable, sustainable, and resilient water planning, management, and stewardship enabled by shared and integrated water data and information.
Internet of Water Coalition Mission
To advance the modernization of public water data infrastructure in the United States to improve the sharing, accessibility, and integration of water data and information.
What We Do
Building Data Infrastructure
Enabling integrated and shared water data from public agencies (state, local, and tribal governments) and NGOs by providing the essential, missing technology to make an internet of water possible.
Demonstrating the value of integrated water data through projects and products that address near-term water management problems.
Building a Sustainable Network
Building a network of water data producers, users, and decision-makers across the nation to advance the uptake of modern water data technologies and improve water management outcomes
Modern water data infrastructure is the key to overcoming the barriers that make water data hard to find, access, and integrate. This infrastructure consists of both essential technology and best practices deployed by data producers and hubs in the network. Most water data is hard to find because it is fragmented across many organizations. Currently, using water data requires specialized knowledge—about which organizations collect what kinds of water data in which geographies—to address particular questions and problems. This problem is known as “findability” or “discoverability.” Improving water data discoverability will require two key improvements to common water data publishing practices: (1) publishing high-quality metadata that describes the data and specifies how to interpret them, and (2) tying the data to real-world geography in a consistent way. In collaboration with our partners at the USGS, the IoW Coalition is cultivating and strengthening metadata best practices and developing a water-specific search index—Geoconnex—that links the data to geographic features like streams, watersheds, aquifers, and administrative boundaries. Once water data is found, it is often hard to access because it is held in closed systems (like Excel spreadsheets). Once accessed, it often cannot be integrated with data in other systems, because the data are not standardized. This 2-part problem is known as “accessibility and interoperability.” An inventory of data platforms conducted by the Internet of Water identified 279 platforms across just five states and the federal government. Most of these platforms publish data in either relatively inaccessible formats unsuitable for bulk data processing, or non-standard formats that require significant transformation to be integrated with other datasets. Many more water data platforms exist across the other 45 states, as well as Tribal and local governments and community science organizations. To improve accessibility and interoperability the IoW Coalition is assisting organizations in the publication of findable, accessible, and interoperable water data through water data hubs. The IoW Coalition is advancing this strategy by offering training on water data interoperability, promoting criteria for water data hubs, and providing a free and open-source software suite designed to allow data providers to automate hub building.
The IoW Coalition creates and implements collaborative projects and products that address near-term water management problems to demonstrate the benefits of integrated water data and leave behind improved capacity to help communities to solve water problems, and test and evaluate the products developed by the IoW to improve usability and foster widespread adoption. Integrated data for integrated water management means better decisions about water management and healthy, safe communities. While the Internet of Water Coalition’s work to improve water data infrastructure will have broad impacts on stakeholders within the water data community, the full magnitude of this impact will be realized among the wider community of water stakeholders at all levels, including those communities who have faced the most adverse effects stemming from the absence of sustainable and equitable water management. The IoW Coalition collaborates with organizations that address issues of vulnerability and equity to build missing but critical data delivery systems. These collaborative efforts will create the enabling conditions needed to improve decision-making and advocacy for improved, equitable water management. The water data infrastructure created by the IoW allows users to martial water data from open-source tools that require little to no technical expertise, reducing the barriers for local communities, and the organizations that serve them, while building technical capacity to support decision-making.
The Internet of Water Project was established in 2018 at Duke University in response to the 2017 Aspen Institute report: Internet of Water: Sharing and Integrating Water Data for Sustainability. This report shared a bold vision for how to improve water data infrastructure nationwide that sparked the imaginations of several philanthropic foundations who seeded the IoW Project at Duke. During our 3-year start-up period, we focused on building state and local capacity, developing essential technologies and resources, and creating a network of water data users, producers, and decision-makers across the US.
Through the start-up period, we learned that the strength of the Internet of Water is its capacity to unite independent organizations and agencies around the common goal of modernizing water data infrastructure in the US. Only through the collaborative work of these many organizations and agencies can we realize the vision of the Internet of Water: a nation engaged in equitable, sustainable, and resilient water planning, management, and stewardship enabled by shared and integrated water data and information. In 2022, the IoW scaled up from a project of the Nicholas Institute at Duke to a coalition of organizations working together with federal, state, and local government partners to enact the vision of the Internet of Water. The Internet of Water Coalition is a multi-sector collaboration co-led by five non-profit organizations: Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy’s Center for Geospatial Solutions (CGS), the Western States Water Council’s Water Data Exchange (WaDE), the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Sciences, Inc. (CUAHSI), and the Water Data Collaborative (WDC).
A successful internet of water includes you
Successfully modernizing our nation’s water data infrastructure requires all of us: public agencies, utilities, NGOs, and private industry, working together toward this common goal. There are many ways for you to get involved.
How to get involved
Participants in the IoW Network
From membership in our P2P Network to collaborative project partners to membership on our listservs, the IoW seeks to grow our connections.
A network of organized water data hubs across the U.S. increases the amount of data being shared by public agencies within and across jurisdictions in accessible and interoperable ways.
States Represented in P2P Network
The IoW P2P Network is a community of practice where members share their successes, challenges, and lessons learned. It is a network of people committed to improved water data management.
Public Agency Water Data Inventories
Public agencies hold large amounts of data. A data inventory is the first step in understanding data fragmentation and identifying areas for improvement.
Terms in Coming To Terms
Coming to Terms is the Internet of Water’s Water Terminology Collection that tracks definitions, synonyms, and homonyms of water-related terms use by public agencies.
Organizations Participating in Geoconnex
Geoconnex is a framework for data providers to allow their data to be easily found alongside relevant data from other organizations.
Locations Represented in Geoconnex
Geoconnex provides persistent identifiers for real-world locations, allowing multiple data providers to unambiguously publish what locations their data is about.
Water Data Platforms
Our public agency water data inventories identified more than 500 water data platforms across 9 states and the federal government.
A Letter from the Internet of Water Coalition Chair
At the Internet of Water Coalition, we believe in the straightforward idea that finding water data on the internet and using it to make decisions should be as easy as finding a cat video or buying a sofa online. Addressing that challenge, however, requires not just innovative new data discovery and access tools, but also a coordinated effort across the whole water data community to use common standards and share and exchange water data in common formats. We also need to stay close to the needs of water decision-makers and the wider community of water stakeholders to realize the vision of the Internet of Water: equitable and resilient water management outcomes.
If you’ve made it this far browsing our website, we consider you part of our community. I invite you to check out the wealth of information and resources we have provided here, and to navigate to our partner’s websites, to see how we are advancing the community-wide notion of an Internet of Water. We hope you will join us on the road to modernizing our nation’s water data infrastructure and advancing evidence-based decision-making about our planet’s most precious resource.
Peter Colohan, IoW Coalition Chair