Data analytics for water security
A partnership between the UTS Advanced Analytics Institute and the NSW Department of Industries (Water) is resulting in more efficient management of water resources through the application of data analytics.
For most people in NSW, water is a given — we turn on the tap, and out it comes. But getting that water to towns, cities and rural areas is a complex challenge that requires careful management of water resources and infrastructure.
Harnessing the data that relates to our water services will go a long way to continuing the safe and secure supply of water in NSW, and that’s exactly what a new research collaboration between the Advanced Analytics Institute (AAi) and the NSW Department of Primary Industries Water (DPI Water) is setting out to do.
“DPI has all these datasets that relate to water resources, infrastructure and supply that have been collected, some for hundreds of years,” says project investigator Professor Michael Blumenstein, an AAi researcher with internationally acclaimed expertise in pattern recognition research.
“These datasets come from multiple sources — anything from sensors to meteorological data to information they’ve kept about water utilities and catchments. The challenge here is that when you’ve got so many sources of data over so many different periods of time, how do you sit down and actually make some use out of it?”
Professor Blumenstein and his team will use their expertise in pattern recognition and data analytics to review datasets that relate to existing water sources and infrastructure, as well as to identify hotspots where flooding and drought are likely to occur. The research outcomes will help DPI to effectively manage NSW water resources into the future.
“It’s about ensuring that the water resources that are available, such as rivers and catchments around the state, can be best utilised for ensuring water security — ensuring that water gets to towns and cities in an appropriate way,” Professor Blumenstein says.
According to Dr Christobel Ferguson, the Group Director of Water Information and Insights at DPI Water, the decision to partner with AAi was driven by an understanding of AAi’s analytics expertise, as well as UTS’s existing infrastructure to support data-driven research.
“We had recently been invited to tour the UTS Data Arena and had seen presentations from Professor Michael Blumenstein and his team, including Dr Richard Xu, so we were aware of the analytics capabilities at UTS,” she says.
“The fact that AAi has previously worked with some sectors in NSW Government and demonstrated the ability to find solutions for complex data problems was also a deciding factor. We know that we will get valuable insights and outcomes from this project that we would not be able to generate alone.”
The project is the first piece of work to be undertaken under a new Memorandum of Understanding between AAi and DPI. It is due to be completed in January 2017.
Background image: Ariful Haque Bhuiyan (via Flickr)