20 Mar 2012

The water data hub is LIVE!

I've been looking for a centralized source of water data for over a year, a place where I could go to find data on any kind of water question.

Although that quest led me to IBNET -- a fantastic resource on water utility data in many countries -- I was unable to find a good centralized index of water data.

Even more depressing, I was unable to get any interest or support out of organizations (USGS, World Bank, OECD, et al.) whose missions might imply support for just such an idea.

So, I decided to set up my own water data hub (WDH) -- a central location that links to water data, no matter where it is, who owns it, or what dimension of water it describes.

Last November, I asked for help on this project, and Ian Wren (from San Francisco) joined me.

It's thanks to Ian's hard work (weekends and evenings!) that I can now invite you to visit waterdatahub.org!

[Link removed in 2016. The old URL now leads to a Chinese breast enlargement site (!?)]

So, please go there and add data sources. The WDH, like any network, gains value with the number of links.

Oh, and don't forget that anyone can add a link to the hub. You only need a WDH account (free and easy to set up). So, go ahead and add your favorite data source from the World Bank, Exxon-Mobile, the Nature Conservancy, et al.

Note by my wording that the WDH does not host, own or control data. It's basically an index of data controlled by other organizations.

The big goal now is to make a census of data, so that we know what exists, what's missing and what overlaps.

Future developments:
  • WDH 1.1: You can add records for data that exist but are not available to the public. This will make it easier to contact data owners to ask for access and -- hopefully -- to pressure them to release it to the public.

  • WDH 1.2: Anyone can comment on the quality of data sources held elsewhere; this will help everyone understand the uses and limitations of data -- information that is not necessarily available from data owners.

  • WDH 2.0 (2013): We will start the very difficult process of "normalizing" data from many sources (using translation tables) to make it possible to assemble a data table from 2+ sources linked to the WDH.
Note that the WDH will make it easier for anyone who analyzes data to do their job; analysis is too difficult to automate.

As you might expect, I am running WDH as a stand-alone, academic, non-profit. At the moment, we do not need money as much as your time.

Bottom Line: Please add new spokes to the WDH (get it?) and tell others about the water data hub.


  1. David, this is a great initiative. With your permission, we'd really like to link to the WDH through our resources section on the Global Water Forum and also announce it on our front page next week. Would you be happy for us to do this? Best wishes,Paul

  2. I am curious how a relationship between this site and the CUAHSI HIS effort (http://his.cuahsi.org/) could be established. The HIS and all of its supporting services based technology is becoming a standard for publishing water resouorces data.

  3. @Bob -- please write an entry linking CUASHI to WDH (I know of it already). We are going shallow and fast, they are doing deep and slow. We'd be happy to use their standards, when we get to standards...


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