Technology on tap to measure shrinking water supplies

CSIRO improves standards for geospatial info sharing

As parliamentarians from both sides of the political divide debate ways to deal with Australia's shrinking water resources, CSIRO researchers have been busy developing high-tech solutions to make sense of the looming crisis.

The technology was showcased at an event organized to show how spatial information can address a diverse range of community problems.

In this particular case, the scenario was a mock terrorist incident in the United States, but the technology is equally applicable to monitoring water resources.

The agency's ICT centre manager Gavin Walker said the demonstration improved a set of Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) specifications to provide access to multiple sources of geospatial information for decision making.

CSIRO is a member of the OGC, which also includes the world's leading spatial data organisations, and has been a key participant in the development of OGC's Sensor Web Enablement technology.

OGC specifications improve the interoperable geospatial capability of the Web, wireless and location-based services, and mainstream information technology.

The demonstration featured real time data sourced from CSIRO wireless sensor networks delivered as Web services.

"Spatial data and sensor technology have a wide range of applications, particularly in the environmental field," Walker said.

"This technology will improve our scientific understanding of Australia's scarce water resources and will revolutionise the way scientists gather data.

"Wireless sensor networks act as 'macroscopes' allowing a study of environmental indicators, such as salinity, at a fine scale over a considerable area."

The technology is part of the $9 million-a-year Water Resources Observation Network (WRON) currently being built.

WRON will provide the technical framework and standards required to support water information management.

"By taking part in the development of international standards we are ensuring that the world's big software companies are recognising and responding to Australia's needs in their next generation of products," he said.

WRON aims to reduce water management costs by 20 per cent per annum.

By linking Australia's water data and harnessing information from satellites and on-ground sensor networks, WRON technologies will make it easier to monitor, forecast and manage water demand, supply, quality and use patterns in any part of the country.

This will ensure reliable forecasts on the status of Australia's water resources.

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