Big data for Groundwater Management

Big Data Analytics and Transboundary Water Collaboration
Project Information

The programme seeks to catalyse research that can help collate and consolidate existing data and to apply big data tools to enhance national and transboundary datasets in Southern Africa that support water resources security decision-making.

Theme 1 (this project) has selected the Ramotswa Transboundary Aquifer to pilot consolidation and application of big data tools to enhance national and transboundary datasets, including the further expansion of the Ramotswa Information Management System as a shared data repository.

Project background

The programme has grown out of a series of USAID and partner-driven initiatives in the Southern African region over a number of years. The need for this program was cemented in a regional workshop that took place at the IBM Africa technology hub in Johannesburg in April 2017, which IGRAC contributed to. 

At its core, the program acknowledges the importance of robust, sufficiently detailed and locally relevant data to inform local and regional decision-making in transboundary basins. The program explores how enhanced big data capabilities can potentially improve the robustness of data, analysis and decision making in the context of transboundary ground and surface water decision-making.

The programme is divided in four themes (projects):

  1. Consolidation of data and application of big data tools to enhance national and transboundary data sets in Southern Africa that support decision-making for security of water resources;
  2. Imagining solutions for extracting further value from existing datasets on surface and groundwater resources in Southern Africa;
  3. Localizing transboundary data sets in Southern Africa: A case study approach;
  4. Groundwater secure transboundary systems 

Project objectives

The overarching goals of this programme are to:

  • Deepen water-related big data skills and capabilities for Southern African researchers and their students through research activities, training and engaging in a CoP;
  • Enhance current understanding of shared groundwater resources and how they can contribute to management and delivery of sustainable drinking water and other productive uses;
  • Improve transboundary ground/surface water management and collaboration.

IGRAC’s role in this project

IGRAC is working on a project under theme 1 together with the leading partner UMVOTO. IGRAC’s role is building on the experience from the Ramotswa project in which IGRAC developed a groundwater information management system (RIMS) and to contribute to:

  • Identifying data holdings within countries sharing the same water resource and facilitate the sharing of data as open source information for the holistic management of the transboundary system.
  • Integrating and reformatting datasets for compatibility purposes and create a new standardised quality control system for capturing, storing and processing of data.
  • Developing a consistent approach regarding the parameters and units of measure of data collection (monitoring points, water levels, well depth, abstraction, water in-storage, etc.) and protocols on how data are to be collected.
  • Further expanding the RIMS as a shared data repository in which to capture, store and process data and information for the countries sharing the same water resource and make a recommendation on the long-term hosting of this repository.
  • Developing and applying data visualisation tools which will appeal to decision-makers and help engage with them, on issues such as drinking water security and sustainability.
  • Applying big data analytics to create new insights for improved local decision-making.

Contact us about this project

Claudia Ruz Vargas - IGRAC Researcher
Ruz Vargas
Senior Groundwater Specialist
Office Phone
+31 15 215 1266