By Dan Carter, NM WRRI GIS Analyst
New Mexico State University, the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute, and the West Big Data Hub presented the Big Data for Water and Water Research Needs workshop on July 23, 2019 in Albuquerque, New Mexico at Hotel Chaco. The aim of the workshop was to bring together researchers and big data experts to discuss how to incorporate data science into water research and science-based water decision-making to meet the needs of New Mexico.
Big Data is characterized by datasets and systems so large and complex that traditional database management tools and data processing applications cannot handle the demands of data analysis and storage. The four V’s: Volume, Variety, Velocity, and Veracity, are used to describe Big Data.
The workshop explored data science relative to New Mexico water research themes. For produced water, variety of data proved to be critical. Answering questions about the role of produced water in New Mexico will involve all of the research university expertise tied together with modeling and data science techniques. For statewide water budgets that include large spatial datasets, big data techniques for very large data volumes will be important. An important crosscutting theme of the workshop was community engagement. Some of the West Big Data Hub data challenge approaches were intriguing for involving communities in defining their water research and data science needs.
An internationally renowned speaker on FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Re-usable) data principles made important connections to water data legislation. Only two states have enacted open water data bills ‒ California was the first in 2016, and New Mexico became the second in January 2019 with the passage of House Bill 651, the Water Data Act. Workshop speakers provided valuable insight and lessons learned from the three years since the passage of the CA bill, and how FAIR data is important for big data and water resources.
In the afternoon, attendees completed group discussions and developed posters on projects, which incorporate big data: produced water, FAIR data, the New Mexico Statewide Water Assessment, and a community engagement water-data challenge. A message emerged from the workshop: big data management takes time, trust, communication, and attention to people not just data.