The uptake of Atlantic DataStream has been tremendous with 40 environmental non profits, provincial and federal governments coming on board to share their water quality data since the open access database went live in June 2018. However this wasn’t always the case. Following the kick off event, we had just under 30 monitoring groups online and still many others who were eager to share their water quality datasets. So many that it was clear that additional support was needed to get this valuable information online.
Atlantic Water Network works with several organizations throughout the Atlantic region, many of whom had decades worth of data, but this information was not always available in accessible formats. Even with today’s technology, we hear stories of groups who have years of valuable information that is only found in paper copies, and in some cases, stored away in filing cabinets or even shoe boxes! Atlantic DataStream now makes sharing data even easier than before, with a standardized format aligned with the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency’s WQX format and safely stored incorporating Blockchain technology.
From literal shoeboxes to digitized formats, groups like St. Croix International Waterway Commission are working towards getting their water quality dataset of 15 years in one central location. With the heavy lifting of digitizing their data complete, they can be assured that this invaluable dataset is securely stored and accessible for decision makers to use in policy-making and design.
In addition to support from OLW, uptake of Atlantic DataStream was also made possible through project funding from the New Brunswick Environmental Trust Fund and Canadian Internet Registry Authority. The NB ETF funded our Project, “New Brunswick Historical Water Quality Data Acquisition: Historic Data Informing Future Decision Making”, with the goal of building capacity among New Brunswick watershed groups to format and upload their data to Atlantic DataStream. AWN staff trained and supported NB watershed groups as they formatted and uploaded decades worth of water quality data. This was a unique approach in that we provided both financial support and staff time to get as much New Brunswick water quality data online as possible.
Funding from CIRA supported our Water to Web workshop series that addressed Data Management of water quality data. Data management plays a key role in organizing, sharing and communicating the results of monitoring programs, but is often left until the last minute or skipped entirely. The Water to Web workshops to highlight data management and help groups integrate it into their program planning.
Even though the growth in water quality data has grown tremendously (there is nearly three times the amount of data on Atlantic DataStream compared to June 2019), there is still a lot more data that could be made accessible by uploading it to the online platform. AWN is committed to working with data holders from all sectors to make their water quality data available on Atlantic DataStream.