New online tool helps residents manage waterways

Residents of south-east Queensland have access to a new online data integration system to track the health of waterways

Residents of south-east Queensland can access a new online data integration system which details the condition of their water catchments.

Known as Health-e-Waterways, the data displays current and historical ‘Ecosystem Health Report Card’ grades for catchments and estuaries.

The tool gathers information from water databases held by a variety of government and research organisations, and is readily accessible through an online portal.

Professor Jane Hunter, director of the University of Queensland’s e-Research Lab and project leader, said that with the tool, residents could drill down and see which particular indicators are problematic in their area.

“They can see ‘eco-plots’ which are graphical representations of the ecosystem’s health and they can see how it changes over time which is an important aspect that they couldn’t previously access,” Hunter said.

The website will also be used by scientists, policy makers and natural resource managers to have easy access to the environmental information via the choice of a flat map or 3D Google Earth user interface.

“The most important aspects coming out of this is that we’re going to be able to link data about management actions, resource management actions and investments to indicator trends so the policy makers and the community themselves can see if the actions that they’re taking are having any impact over time, and then they can adapt them quickly,” Hunter said.

The Health-e-Waterways project is funded by the Queensland Government, with assistance from the Univeristy of Queensland and Microsoft Research.

The system has ability to be tailored to other regions, but further discussions need to be entered into before it is rolled out to other states, Hunter said..

“The future is all about open access to environmental data, not just to scientists but the general public as well,” she said.

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