Global Water Information IG Charter

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09 Dec 2015

Global Water Information IG Charter

Global Water Information IG (GWIIG) Charter


Water data is being collected by multiple agencies and research groups around the world, and used across scientific disciplines and management projects. However, efficient sharing, discovery and re-use of water information is hindered by a number of issues. Key themes include development of standards for water data encoding and exchange, creating community models of hydrologic features, managing shared vocabularies of hydrologic terms, development of water data catalogs and data discovery mechanisms, introduction of persistent identifiers, development of standard scalable mechanisms for linking hydrologic data with research publications. These themes are also actively discussed by the RDA community, as they are common across research domains and not confined to water and hydrology.

At the 6th RDA Plenary, a BoF session on global sharing of water data was held. The main outcome of the discussion was a recommendation to organize a water data interest group within the RDA framework. The BoF was attended by members of the OGC/WMO Hydrology Domain Working Group (HDWG), as well as other RDA members representing hydrology and related fields.

The participants agreed on the critical importance of considering global water data sharing issues in the context of RDA. A key additional issue extensively discussed at the session was the relationship between the new proposed interest group, and the HDWG, a joint working group of OGC and WMO, which has been the key platform for international water data standards activities since 2008. It was determined that opportunities in RDA complement the activities in OGC, and that an RDA interest group be formed. Nevertheless, there is an expectation that the membership, and possibly the leadership, will overlap significantly with the OGC/WMO group. Therefore, ‘dual branding’, or rather ‘triple branding’ (considering involvement of OGC, WMO and RDA), might be considered, with complementary activities in the different forums.

The proposed Global Water Information Interest Group (GWIIG) will serve as a platform leading to formation of RDA working group (the initial set of WG topics is outlined below); as a venue for communication among RDA WGs and IGs focused on both technical eInfrastructure aspects (e.g. brokering; metadata and catalogs, dynamic data citation) and on related research domains (e.g. geosciences, agriculture, biodiversity); and as a coordination mechanism across a wide group of water information stakeholders, in particular those not previously involved in the OGC/WMO water standardization work.

While benefitting from RDA’s focus on common eInfrastructure issues, the group will contribute to RDA its experience in developing and implementing standards-based water data exchange, develop use cases for water data use in other domains, formulate technical requirements for metadata, identifiers, data management policies, catalogs, data citation, and other eInfrastructure components as derived from the practice of hydrologic data management and water informatics.

User Scenarios Addressed by the IG

One of the key areas of interest by IG members is organization of a collection of water data-related use cases that can be used in a range of standards- and eInfrastructure development contexts. Several initial use cases addressed by the group include: a) transboundary exchange of surface water and groundwater information, b) integration of standards-based water data exchange into infrastructure for supporting hydrologic forecasting, in particular in cases of disaster management and risk reduction, and c) cross-domain data integration, in agricultural and biodiversity applications.

Value proposition

Participation in RDA as an Interest Group would bring distinct value and expand the ongoing cross-country and cross-disciplinary water data integration and sharing effort within the OGC/WMO HDWG and other groups. In particular, it will help to:

a) facilitate dissemination and implementation of water data standards being developed through HDWG activities;

b) explore and compare eInfrastructures being developed for water data sharing, with related designs in other domains;

c) address issues that are currently outside of the scope of HDWG;

d) facilitate re-use of eInfrastructure foundation and components recommended by RDA or developed by RDA partners;

e) explore policies for water data sharing as related to the general policy agenda being investigated by RDA groups;

f) leverage RDA work on data publication and dynamic data citation (issues directly applicable to management of hydrologic time series);

g) make water data sharing a component of global data sharing system within the RDA framework;

h) gain insights from experience and best practices of data systems in other domains, in particular as they address common pain points in eInfrastructure development;

i) coordinate with other RDA groups on addressing common deficiencies of existing data publication and exchange frameworks such as lack of policy level enforcement of a global water data exchange scheme, in the context of each country/continent having its own IT/political approach;

j) organize use cases and get feedback from water data users in other domains;

k) attract academic researchers working on water data sharing and related infrastructure issues, as their participation may be better recognized and aligned with the RDA framework rather than with OGC;

l) widen participation in global water eInfrastructure discussion by attracting members from regions not currently engaged in the development of water data exchange standards through HDWG, in particular from developing countries;

m) identify and coordinate requirements relating to water data standards from the wider research community, as input to the HDWG-led standardization process.

While having an umbrella agreement between RDA and OGC is desirable, the discussion at the BOF led to the decision that the IG should proceed without waiting for such institutional alignment to happen – and perhaps serve as a test case for shaping such future agreement. This has the potential to bring additional value to both the RDA and the OGC and WMO communities.

Scope and Objectives

The Global Water Information IG (GWIIG) will focus on topics related to organization, representation, publication, sharing, discovery, re-use and integration of hydrologic information of different types, leveraging RDA eInfrastructure efforts and coordinating within RDA and with external groups. GWIIG will bring together key stakeholders working with water data, in particular those who are not actively participating in related international communities of practices, such as the OGC/WMO Hydrology Domain Working Group. It will actively engage with other RDA groups, both with technical and with domain focus, and explore best eInfrastructure practices developed within RDA or existing in other domains, as well as take stock of requirements for water information in other research and management domains. While the IG will provide a longer-term framework for discussion of water-related issues, it will also spin off Working Groups to address topics of interest as they emerge.


Communities involved in GWIIG will include: a) researchers and developers interested in standards for hydrologic data, mostly representing research staff of water data agencies from multiple countries; b) practitioners responsible for management of water observations, from governments, commercial companies, and public utilities; c) academic researchers interested in various aspects of water data management and sharing; d) hydrologic modelers and forecasters, from academia, government agencies and research centers; e) experts from related domains interested in using water information to support use cases in their domains; and f) technical experts and eInfrastructure developers interested in information models, identifier systems, dynamic data referencing, metadata, hydrologic feature and observation semantics and other specifics of water data. Communities not previously involved in OGC/WMO water standards work, will be engaged via announcements of discussion topics via email distribution to several target groups (e.g. US academic hydrologists via CUAHSI) and via the group’s web site; joint compilation of use cases, exploration of water-data related projects around the globe and analysis of best practices, and development of working group topics. Two of the initial co-chairs of GWIIG are also co-chairs of the OGC/WMO HDWG, which should make coordination between the two groups straightforward. GWIIG will specifically seek participation from countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, developing countries in particular.

Activities and Outcomes

The Water Data IG will initially focus its activities on the following main areas:

●      Use cases related to water data sharing, in particular across different domains.

The group will develop a compendium of use cases, initially starting with use cases developed by HDWG members, and soliciting feedback from other RDA groups, in particular focused on agriculture, biodiversity, marine data, and earth systems science. Additional focus will be on water modeling and scalability of forecast models.

●      Components of eInfrastructure relevant to water information systems.

The focus of this work will be on recent RDA advances in data registries, metadata management, PIDs, data linking infrastructure, data management policies, and big data management. The work will be done in collaboration with respective RDA IGs and WGs.

●      Development of more complete information models and ontologies for the water domain.

This effort will leverage controlled vocabulary, ontology and information model registry work within RDA, and complement work being done within HDWG.

●      Promote water data standards developed within HDWG, explore interoperability with data exchange schemas in other domains, and facilitate global coordination across spatial data infrastructure efforts and stakeholders.

Better coordination between OGC and RDA activities is desirable, and interaction between GWIIG and HDWG will help better identify areas of focus and separation of concerns between the two communities. The developed arrangements can be scaled to the level of OGC-RDA interaction and will help define a formal relationship between the two organizations.

An example of such activity could be to aim at making more visible the standardization effort going on at the OGC level within the research publication realm (for example, DOI on OGC specs, publication of a ‘water collection standards’)

Additional partner organizations and projects in this effort will include: INSPIRE, W3C, GEO, WMO Commission on Hydrology, NSF EarthCube, ESIP, AGILE, CUAHSI, ESSI section of the AGU, and Belmont Forum.

●      Integrated data publication and dynamic data citation for water data.

This has been a key focus of RDA activities, but hasn’t been addressed within HDWG. Following RDA recommendations on data publication and citation will bring significant benefits to the water data research community.

The above topics will serve as the initial discussion foci within the IG, and potentially form the basis for RDA working groups.



The group will meet at RDA plenaries. Between plenaries, communication will be done via email and web site, and occasional conference calls and webinars once topics and schedule are finalized.


Before the 7th RDA Plenary:

●      Finalize the charter, get the IG approved and endorsed

●      Coordinate meetings with several RDA IGs to define common interests and use cases; discuss with them a collection of use cases identified so far

●      Start developing communication materials, including GWIIG web site and discussion forum

●      Call for interested WGs to be setup


In the first 12 months:

·       Compile an initial set of use cases to guide GWIIG work and become the basis of WGs

·       Coordinate with relevant funded projects and ongoing eInfrastructure efforts focused on water data management and forecasting

·       Define criteria and start compilation of water eInfrastructure projects and best practices

·       Facilitate creation of first WGs, and help coordinate their work with other relevant RDA WGs

·       Contribute to RDA registry of metadata standards and other relevant registries


GWIIG will have at least three co-chairs, who will coordinate IG activities between RDA plenaries, organize IG sessions at RDA plenaries, and coordinate work with other RDA groups. It is expected that the IG leadership will partially overlap with leadership of the OGC/WMO HydroDWG, as these two groups are expected to coordinate their activities focused on standards development (HDWG) and on surrounding eInfrastructure technical and cross-domain issues (GWIIG). As specific development projects emerge and organized as Working Groups, their leads will be selected from GWIIG members.

The initial co-chairs are:

Ilya Zaslavsky: Director, Spatial Information Systems Lab, San Diego Supercomputer Center, University of California San Diego, USA. HDWG Co-chair.

Sylvain Grellet: Scientific Program Coordinator, Scientific Information and Technologies Division of BRGM (Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières), France.

Tony Boston: Branch Head, Environmental Information Management, Bureau of Meteorology, Australia. HDWG Co-chair.

Matthew Fry: Environmental Informatics Manager, Center for Ecology & Hydrology, UK.

Potential Group Members


The following individuals, from Australia, Europe and North America, participated in the BOF session, supported GWIIG creation, and expressed their intent to participate in future GWIIG sessions and related working groups.




Bruce Simons

CSIRO, Australia

Paul Sheahan

BoM, Australia

David Maidment

UT Austin, USA

Alva Couch


Tony Boston

BoM, Australia

Ilya Zaslavsky


Matt Fry


Filip Kral


Alistair Ritchie

Landcare Research, New Zealand

Brian Gouge

Aquatic Informatics, Canada

Sylvain Grellet

BRGM, France

Quentain Groan

Botanic Garden Meuse, Belgium

Simon Cox

CSIRO, Australia

Ralf Busskamp

BfG, Germany

Varsha Khodiyar

Scientific Data (NPG), UK

Mike Brown


John Watkins


Jesus Marco


Jay Pearlman


Francoise Pearlman

IEEE, USA/France

Francois Robida

BRGM, France

Rufus Pollock 

Open Knowledge, UK

Rick Lawford

Lawford Consulting, Canada/Japan

Toshio Koike

Univ of Tokyo, Japan

Rifat Hossain

WHO, Switzerland

Nguyen Hong Quan

Vietnam National University, Vietnam

Le Anh Tuan

CanTho University, Vietnam

Hesham Gaber

Library of Alexandria, Egypt

Salah Soliman

Library of Alexandria, Egypt

Mohamed Khalil

Cairo University, Egypt



  • Mark Parsons's picture

    Author: Mark Parsons

    Date: 14 Dec, 2015

    It would be good to reach out to and include USGS in this, notably their Open Water Data Initiative.

  • David Kennewell's picture

    Author: David Kennewell

    Date: 23 Dec, 2015

    What a great charter, well done. I'd be really interested to learn a bit more about this and contibute where I can.

    I see initiatives like this adding significant transparency and rigour to environmental impact assessment and design for civil infrastructure projects that interact with our water resources.

    It would be great to further explore this use case. 

  • David Blodgett's picture

    Author: David Blodgett

    Date: 07 Jan, 2016

    While we (USGS) were not able to attend the Birds of a Feather on global sharing of water data, we agree that the proposed RDA interest group is a good opportunity to expand and enrich the OGC/WMO hydrology domain working group. We are especially supportive of aiming to coordinate meeting times and locations among OGC, WMO, and RDA to enable productive opportunities to communicate without the the need for additional travel and meeting logistics.

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