Use of Innovative Technologies in GIS and Social Media to Better Manage Water Resources and Water-Related Emergencies

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AWRA's first of its kind forum will bring together Google Geospatial Team, Microsoft Research Connections, U.S. Geological Survey, and other national and international experts to explore what's possible.

Spring Flooding on the Connecticut River

The challenge is about saving lives, saving communities, protecting the environment and protecting the water supply all rolled into one.

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Rapid and timely response to large-scale water-related emergencies is becoming dependent upon the coupling of two things: the availability of advanced geospatial information services (GIS) linked to water and climate data, and the accessibility of social media tools for communication, collaboration and cooperation. “The challenge is about saving lives, saving communities, protecting the environment and protecting the water supply all rolled into one,” according to Katherine Lins, Chief, Office of Water Information, Water Mission Area, U.S. Geological Survey.

On March 26, The American Water Resources Association (AWRA) will address the challenge of advancing critical water resources decision-making including a special executive forum with experts from the Google Geospatial Team, Microsoft Research Connections, U.S. Geological Survey, Geomatics Canada, ESRI, and the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Sciences. Managers and researchers from multiple federal, state and local agencies along with private sector firms will explore the potential for the most advanced technologies in GIS, water resources, and social networking.

The goal of this first ever event is to further improve emergency and strategic water related decisions at the local, state, national and international level. The theme is carried through from the plenary address on Mississippi flood fighting to the afternoon executive track with forums that explore new platforms and technologies from a decision-maker's perspective. The session will take place on March 26 as part of AWRA’s seventh Conference on GIS and Water Resources in New Orleans, Louisiana March 26 – 28, 2012.

Significant damage brought on by hurricane Katrina, recent flooding in the Mississippi and the Red River, oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico and the Yellowstone River in Montana, and the current Texas drought resulting in serious reductions in the Ogallala Aquifer, among many other events, are requiring U.S. and Canadian water resources managers and decision makers to seek faster and better ways to assess and monitor surface and groundwater impairments, water shortages, and serious stormwater related conditions and risks.

Recent innovations in geospatial technologies combined with those in water resources modeling and social media have the potential for enabling greater understanding and sharing of critical water data in realtime (streamflow, water quality, precipitation and groundwater conditions). This understanding and sharing provide the capacity for significant improvements in the long-term management of water resources as well as the mitigation of emergencies related to storm events, hazardous discharges, and changes in the water supply.

For more information about the integration of these technologies, the use of these technologies in addressing water related emergencies, and the executive session taking place in New Orleans on March 26, please contact Mary Ashton, mary(at)awra(dot)org, 540.687.8390.

Since 1964, American Water Resources Association has been dedicated to the advancement of water resources management, research, and education and a balanced approach towards solving water resources challenges. AWRA’s membership is comprised of professionals who share a common interest in working and learning across a wide range of multidisciplines focused on water resources policy, practice, and academic pursuits. Members include engineers, foresters, biologists, hydrologists, geologists, chemists, ecologists, GIS professionals, geographers, planners, soil scientists, economists, attorneys, planners, educators, students, community leaders and policy makers.

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Mary Ashton
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