March 31, 2022

Internet of Water Coalition Launches

Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
Internet of Water Coalition Launches

The idea of an Internet of Water was first conceived at the Aspen Institute Dialog Series on Water Data, and formalized in the 2017 report “The Internet of Water: Sharing and Integrating Water Data for Sustainability.” This concept built on earlier academic work in water science, as well the federal government’s Open Water Data Initiative (OWDI), which substantially improved access to federal water data sets. Subsequently, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have created “internet of water” teams to continue the work of improving water data management at the federal level.  These federal and academic efforts, however, have not attempted to improve data infrastructure at state agencies or local utilities. The Western States Water Council recognized this problem as early as 2012 when it created the Water Data Exchange (WaDE) project.  Subsequently, the states of California, New Mexico, Texas, and Oregon have each created initiatives designed to tackle the water data management challenge.

In 2018, the Duke University Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions (Nicholas Institute) launched the Internet of Water (IoW) Project as part of their Water Policy Program. Over the past 3 years, the IoW Project has focused on tying these state and federal efforts together, building state and local capacity, developing essential technologies and resources, and creating a network of water data users, producers, and decision-makers across the US. As of 2022, agencies in four states are implementing Internet of Water collaborative projects; California, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Texas.

Through this start-up period, we learned that the strength of the Internet of Water is its capacity to unite independent organizations and agencies around the common goal of modernizing water data infrastructure in the US. Only through the collaborative work of these many organizations and agencies can we realize the vision of the Internet of Water: a nation engaged in equitable, sustainable, and resilient water planning, management, and stewardship enabled by shared and integrated water data and information.

Now, as the IoW enters its growth phase, we are scaling up from a project of the Nicholas Institute at Duke to a coalition of organizations working together with federal, state, and local government partners to enact the vision of the Internet of Water. As part of our growth phase, we are launching a new IoW Initiative at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy’s Center for Geospatial Solutions (CGS) to operationalize the innovations developed by the team at the Nicholas Institute. CGS is collaborating with the Nicholas Institute and other key IoW partners to form the new Internet of Water Coalition, a diverse organization with the resilience and adaptability to transform water data infrastructure across the US.