Track 8 Wed 27 May: How to improve data re-use: from data acquisition to capacity development

Track contributions

Open Data from governments and projects

Started 9 months ago

Whether it flooding, drought or environmental pollution, we cannot mitigate or respond to disasters without data. However, prediction models, mobile apps and web services for policy support can only be used if sufficient data are freely available. Those data are usually collected by governments, funded by taxpayers. Taxpayers should therefore be entitled to access these data, provided they do not infringe the privacy and safety of citizens.

I wrote a blog about this for Open Data Day 2019 and I'm curious about your opinions and experiences.

In many countries, there are insufficient data being collected by government departments, which then struggle with inadequate mechanisms to store, share and interpret the limited data they have collected. Not only is capacity development needed here, but also a willingness to consider alternative sources of data to support policy making, such as from citizen science.

Citizen science has big potential in order to consider alternative data sources next to the official data from authorities.

Another source are observations from long-term scientific observational networks, such as FLUXNET for evaporation and also for soil moisture we have with the International Soil Moisture Network (ISMN) a strong partner within GTN-H that is also strongly driven by data from research communities.
But also under the umbrella of UNESCO's IHP there are some flagship initiatives such as the FRIEND Water Programme. FRIEND stands for "Flow Regimes from International Experimental and Network Data", is highly data-oriented and is now again more strongly supported by UNESCO and thus inspires new commitment across the various regional groups worldwide.



We recently finished an EU Horizon 2020 project on Citizen Observatories (CO's), the Ground Truth 2.0 project, led by Dr. Uta Wehn from IHE Delft. CO's go a step further than citizen science. CO's enable citizens, and not only scientists and professionals, to share data about their environment and to take on a new role in decision making and cooperative planning. In the Ground Truth 2.0 project 7 CO's were established, five in Europe (the Netherlands, 2 in Belgium, Spain and Sweden) and two in Africa (Zambia and Kenya). All CO's were co-designed with the stakeholders and as a result have different environmental topics that they address. There was also a great diversity in implementation and dynamics. More information about our experiences in the 6 CO's can be found on the project website and this video.

Together with Earthwatch (, the UNEP GEMS/Water Capacity Dvelopment Centre is exploring whether Citizen Science can provide data for the Sustainable Development Goal indicator 6.3.2 for ambient water quality following the UN Water Integrated Monitoring Intitiative ( reporting methodology ( You can see the results of the first tests here: