ASCE members Martha Juch, P.E., D.WRE, and Robert Schreiber, P.E., BCEE, D.WRE participated in the Advisory Committee on Water Information (ACWI) annual meeting last month in Reston, Virginia. The advisory committee’s mission is to improve water information for decision making for natural resources management and environmental protection. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is the primary federal agency charged with overseeing the committee.
Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary for Water and Science at USGS, challenged the committee last week to begin focusing on building out a new project called the Open Water Data Initiative (OWDI). The initiative seeks to compile water metadata into to a central database that is open to the public. Currently, water data is collected using various standards and is often stored on a specific project website, in a state database or withheld by a single agency. The hope is OWDI will standardize the collection practice and make the data open and easy to access through the central database.
The OWDI is one of several open data initiatives currently being pursued by the Administration. In May 2013, President Obama signed Executive Order 13642 “Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information” to increase public accessibility to scientific data collected by the federal government. OWDI is modeled after the Open Climate Initiative.
ASCE will continue to support important open government initiatives, particularly those that increase the public’s ability to access scientific data.