Awareness of water data (quality, availability, location, etc.) is crucial for optimising its management. Several European research institutes, which have noted that the existing and available data is fragmented, have set up an online portal aimed at aggregating and maintaining the information and documentation in this area. The Freshwater Information Platform is intended for researchers, decision-makers, and water system managers, but also for all members of the public who want to perfect their understanding of this issue. Credit: Thinkstock – Photawa
Even though many projects relating to water resources are supported by the European Union, the lessons and data resulting from these projects are often published separately on the Internet, and without updates once the projects end. The MARS (Managing Aquatic ecosystems and water Resources under multiple Stress) Project is one of these projects. It was launched on 1 February 2014, and is expected to run until 31 January 2018. It also funds the Freshwater Information Platform, which, unlike other data retrieval projects, will outlive the MARS Project.
A tool that aggregates all the online data
Credit: Thinkstock – Photawa
The Freshwater Information Platform aims to help improve the dissemination of information on freshwater in order to generate more responsible and sustainable management of European water resources. To achieve this aim, it assembles existing documentary resources, most of which are intended for researchers, the responsible authorities, and water resource managers. Any member of the public who is interested can nevertheless gain access – free of charge – to all the content, which covers very broad topics (public policy, climate change, factors that are damaging water resources, etc.). The data are mostly hosted on external websites, to which the platform refers users.
A database… as well as a collaborative platform
Aggregating information that already exists online is not the platform’s sole aim. New content is also added on a regular basis, both by the administrators and external contributors. Field experiments in 16 catchment areas in Europe are being conducted as part of the MARS Project, and the results will be published on the platform. At the same time, the platform aims to bring together a community of researchers, decision-makers, and managers able to maintain and improve knowledge and practices relating to water resources, and to encourage them to provide content voluntarily. As part of this approach, the Freshwater Information Platform also provides a directory with the researchers, their past and current projects, and their project results. Lastly, the platform includes a media section, where news, interviews, and research are published on a regular basis.
Thus, in the long term, the Freshwater Information Platform is intended to be a database that encourages new projects and collaborative innovation.