Water Data Collection Standards
Water data is collected across Australia by many organisations, often to meet the requirements of their own documented procedures and sometimes with reference to ISO standards.
The variety of methodologies and practices employed in collecting, managing and transferring this data means that it is difficult for other users to determine the fitness for purpose of the data and any derived information. The Bureau’s role as the national water information provider has highlighted the difficulties in producing national information from data collected in different ways and without reference to any agreed or commonly known standards.
The Bureau will in the future require providers of data under the Water Regulations 2008 to send that data in WDTF. This will enable the Bureau to efficiently ingest and process the data and provide it to the community in a timely manner. It will significantly improve the quality and comparability of the data the Bureau publishes online through the Australian Water Resources Information System.
Water data providers can attach a data quality code to the data they send to the Bureau. This is a useful indicator of quality, however it is subjective, as each data provider must make their own determination of the appropriate quality flag. It is probably most useful for water information users who are seeking more generalised water information. We realise that this is far from ideal and that further progress need to be made.
For users who need a more objective measure of data quality, the Bureau will, in the future, make the regulations metadata associated with a given observation, discoverable. This metadata will include information on adherence to procedures and standards when the data was collected. The utility of this information would be greatly enhanced if data providers agreed to use common standards.
The Bureau, both directly and through The Modernisation and Extension of Hydrologic Monitoring Systems Program, has funded projects to progress data collection standards. A National Technology Reference Group meeting was held in August 2010 to expose a range of other projects that had been undertaken as part of the Modernisation and Extension of Hydrologic Monitoring Systems program, and to share technology improvements in water data collection.