The present era provides unprecedented volumes of data that could be available to decision models and tools that can be used to improve understanding and management of Australia's groundwater systems. The challenge is in providing equitable access to all the available data - public and private - in a seamless manner, regardless of its disparate custodianship and collective heterogeneity. Hence the aim of the research is to develop a comprehensive, informative, intuitive-to-use knowledge base of groundwater information that is freely available to the entire community.
Implementing data democracy requires both the technology to interoperably federate data as well as the motivations for custodians to provision their data for all to benefit. A research project being undertaken in Victoria is successfully implementing a system in which numerous groundwater data sets owned and managed by a variety of custodians are brought together in a single web-portal. To the extents possible, the technology adopts GroundWaterML2 a specification proposed by the Hydrology Domain Working Group of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) in 2016 as a international standard for the transfer of groundwater data, including water wells, aquifers, flow, physical and chemical parameters and management. A number of use-cases were collaboratively developed with the end-users to direct the portal functions.
Around 80 datasets from 8 disparate custodians are interoperably federated in the Visualising Victoria's Groundwater portal, ranging from government data to community contributed data. The greatest use of the data portal is by the private sector (43%) ahead of government, community, water authorities and researchers.
This data democracy system provides timely and equitable access to all the data required to answer the frequently asked use-case questions for both the private sector and public sector decision makers and aids community debates around the groundwater impacts of energy resource developments, urbanisation and changing climates.