Learning Center

Educational and support materials to  assist organizations in modernizing their water data infrastructure

Water Data Assessment Tool

 The Water Data Assessment Tool helps data producers improve their water data infrastructure through best practices to improve their data’s discoverability, accessiblity, and usability. To use this tool, select “Present” in the window and follow the steps to determine (1) where your organization fits on the spectrum of discoverability, accessbility, and usability, and (2) how you might improve your organization’s water data infrastructure.

Data 101: A guidebook for water data users and decision-makers

Our mission is to promote and support efforts to improve our nation’s water data infrastructure. An important part of this mission is to address the knowledge gap that exists between traditional and modern data management practices. This guidebook provides foundational knowledge about water data infrastructure in clear and non-technical language.

Frequently Asked Questions: Data 101

What are FAIR data practices?

FAIR data is data that are findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable.

The Future of Research Communication and e-Scholarship (FORCE11) are working towards facilitating knowledge creation and sharing. FORCE11 convened a 2014 workshop in the Netherlands that found that all research objects should be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR). For more information: Wilkinson, et al. 2016. The FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship

Why are data standards important?

“Standards make it easier to create, share, and integrate data by making sure that there is a clear understanding of how the data are represented and that the data you receive are in a form that you expected. Data standards are the rules by which data are described and recorded. In order to share, exchange, and understand data, we must standardize the format as well as the meaning.” (USGS)

What is metadata and why is it important?

Metadata are data describing who collected data, about what parameters, for what purposes, over what time period(s), at what location, and with what collection and analytical methods. This information should be sufficient to enable a determination about reuse of the data. (ie, the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How of the data).

What are cloud services and are they safe?

Cloud services refer to a wide range of services delivered on demand over the Internet. Cloud services are safe and do not rely on internal hardware or infrastructure and can be an affordable option for managing data infrastructure.

Water Data Policy Landscape

The process to modernize water data infrastructure is already underway at the federal level and in some states. Innovative policy and supportive legislation can help ensure agencies have the motivation and resources they need to make water data as easy to use as possible. Read more about the current water data policy landscape in this StoryMap.

Additional Policy Resources

List Document Icon

Achieving an Internet of Water by 2030: Recommendations for Federal Policymakers

To ensure equitable, sustainable, and resilient water management, we must build an Internet of Water. These four recommendations will make an Internet of Water possible.

Policy Document Icon

Legislation for Modern Water Data Infrastructure

This policy brief provides an overview of water data legislation in the United States, as well as a set of water data policy recommendations and guidance on water data policy development.

New Mexico, California, and Oregon Water Policy

Water Data Legislation Options: Examples from New Mexico, California, and Oregon

This document compares processes, outcomes, and costs associated with the legislation and funding for water data initiatives in New Mexico, California, and Oregon.

Valuing Data

Rocks Stacked by Waterfall

The value of water data has not been well documented, quantified, or communicated. We need to invest in our data infrastructure to make data more discoverable, accessible, and usable to inform real-time decisions. To do this, we must understand:

  • Why data are hard to value
  • Approaches to valuing data
  • Core principles to valuing data

This resource guides users through the process of valuing data, highlighting a variety of economic methods, and provides step-by-step guidance.

Funding Opportunities for Hubs

A searchable online database and pdf table of 30 federal and philanthropic opportunities for water data hubs and producers.


Cover of Funding Opportunities

Pilot Evaluation

This guidance document is intended to help pilots, hubs, and data producers evaluate their efforts to promote water data. The guidance is designed to create frameworks for evaluation and develop assessment metrics. The guidance targets different stages of effort (e.g., stakeholder outreach, pilot design, and output evaluation, among others).

Assessment of Agreements

The Nicholas Institute’s Water Policy Program developed this guide to various types of agreements for use between federal and state agencies and data organizations. Ideally, emerging IoW hubs will be able to use this text to navigate the task of developing such agreements with partner agencies and organizations.