A lot of useful data on water, agriculture and food security has been made available in the public domain, through various sources such as the World Bank, United Nations, governments, and NGOs. Open satellite data (such as that available through Google Earth) is another big source. Thanks to mobile technology and growing connectivity, a larger number of smaller organisations and individuals are being able to collect data and add to this pool too.
This data opens up new ways of appraising the state of the world, analysing problems, and developing solutions. In no other field is the need for such informed decision making truer than in water and natural resource management. With resource scarcity, climate variability, and extreme events on the rise, it is more important than ever that well-informed decisions are made across the whole spectrum of sectors and stakeholders—agriculture, livestock, water supply, energy, industry….. governments, international organizations, NGOs, academia and general public.
Much creative and effective use of data is being made by many of these entities. However, in order to unleash the full potential of this data, it needs to be brought across the digital divide to those still unconnected. Also, raw data is of limited use without visualization tools to help interpret and analyse it.
In this webinar, Josje Spierings (Project Manager, Akvo) discussed how open data and simple mobile technology is being used across the world to improve water infrastructure and services for disadvantaged populations, for lobbying and advocacy, monitoring and evaluation. And the potential for this to be scaled to a global level. Nagaraja Rao Harshdeep (Global Lead (Watersheds), Environment and Natural Resources Global Practice, World Bank) discussed what investments need to be made in order to modernise water and other natural resource information systems. He will also demonstrate ‘Spatial Agent,’ a World Bank app that demonstrates an innovative way to visualize key multi-sectoral public domain data, pulled from thousands of datasets from over 300 web services from several institutions. Bert Diphoorn, Former Vice-Chair, UN-Water, moderated the discussion.