The Internet of Water envisions a nation engaged in equitable and resilient water management and stewardship enabled by shared and integrated water data and information.
To advance the transformation and modernization of public water data infrastructure in the United States to improve the sharing and integration of water information.
What We Do
Building Data Infrastructure
Enable 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.
Demonstrate the value of integrated water data through projects and products that address near-term water management problems.
Building a Sustainable Network
Build a network of water data producers, hubs, and users across the nation to advance the uptake of these technologies and take advantage of them to improve water outcomes
Modern water data infrastructure is the key to overcoming the technical and capacity barriers that make water data hard to find, access, and integrate online. 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 and 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. The IoW 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) and once accessed, it often cannot be integrated with other 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 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 project is assisting these organizations in the publication of accessible, interoperable water data at the source, or through water data hubs. The IoW is advancing this strategy by (a) providing training on water data interoperability and promoting criteria for water data hubs, and (b) providing a free and open-source software suite designed to allow data providers to automate hub building.
The IoW creates and implements collaborative projects and products that address near-term water management problems to
1) demonstrate the benefits of integrated water data and leave behind improved capacity to help communities to solve water problems, and
2) 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’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 works with organizations whose mission it is to directly 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 IoW 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 to fundamentally transform water management. This idea sparked the imaginations of several philanthropic foundations, who seeded the Internet of Water (IoW) project, now managed by a small Duke startup team, working to realize the IoW vision and mission. By 2021, the IoW aims to be a self-sustaining network supported by an independent organization.
A successful internet of water includes you
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
Geconnoex provides persistent identifiers for real-world locations, allowing multiple data providers to unambiguously publish what locations their data is about.
Water Data Platforms
The Internet of Water public agency water data inventories identified more than 500 water data platforms across 9 states and the federal government.
A Letter from the Executive Director