The Hydrologic Information System (HIS) is the first phase of the development of a Web-based cyber-infrastructure that allows users to access the broad range of existing data sources, and to publish new observation datasets.
Developed at the University of California’s San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), HIS is supported by a five-year grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation and is freely available as open source technology.
“We’re drowning in data, but the problem is that most, if not all, of these databases are incompatible with each other,” said Ilya Zaslavsky, who is a director of SDSC’s Spatial Information Systems Laboratory and a key architect of HIS.
“Despite water being such a precious commodity and its conservation being such an important issue these days, [U.S.] researchers still don’t have an accurate assessment of just how much water we have as a nation,” he said.
Of the five U.S. universities involved in the HIS project, SDSC is the technical partner whose role is to house project data and related services, as well as to support the development and deployment of HIS databases, middleware and applications.
The Australian Bureau of Meterology (BOM), CSIRO, Water Resources Observation Network and Open Geospatial Consortium also have made contributions to the project, including the development of a Google Earth mapping application for HIS services.
According to Stuart Minchin, who is the research director of CSIRO Land and Water, the organisation currently is working with the U.S. team and the BOM to serve up field monitoring data in Queensland using HIS.
The researchers are working within a one-year timeframe to further develop HIS to produce a national data set for the management of water in Australia.
“We are currently in the middle of a significant drought in Australia,” Minchin said. “Knowing how much water we have and where we have it will have a significant benefit nationally.”
“At the moment, we are unable to account for how much water we have, and I think the HIS will help us to do so,” he said.
HIS is expected to be the first of its kind; a large scale, end-to-end infrastructure for publishing, discovering, accessing, and exploring hydrologic observations.
While he noted that HIS is not a generic data management system, but a specialised tool for hydrologic research, SDSC’s Zaslavsky expects the system to benefit other domains that deal with spatially distributed observation data.
Weather research, oceanography, and environmental science were mentioned as potential uses for the technology. In the business world, Zaslavsky said the system may be used to expose financial time series collected at different points.
CSIRO collaboration to improve water data management
By Liz Tay on May 12, 2008 4:02PM