|The Australian National Groundwater Data Transfer Standard|
The Australian National Groundwater Data Transfer Standard
In the past year, a working group has been drafting national data standards for core groundwater data. The objective of the project is to design a set of consistent data standards and conventions to facilitate the transfer of groundwater data in the country. Work has concentrated on developing data structures to accommodate the types of groundwater data that are commonly collected in the field, such as water levels, pumping rates, geological and geophysical logging, water chemistry and construction details.
The following agencies are represented in the working group:
The project is funded by the participating agencies as well as from the National Landcare Program.
Why define Standards?
A common language
Each of the government agencies that maintain groundwater data in Australia has independently established database structures, suited to their particular functions and priorities. Likewise, users have set up their own ways of dealing with groundwater data. A generic data transfer standard would bridge the gap between user and provider.
Less time wasted
From a user perspective, such a standard would greatly reduce the time presently required to reformat data. Instead of dealing with the multitude of formats currently output from suppliers, the user only has to deal with a single standard format. Considering that many users obtain their data from many databases this will significantly boost productivity. You can spend less time getting the data into your database and more time using the data.
What does this mean?
The possibility of misinterpretation by users would decrease if data is uniformly structured, defined and documented. For example, using a standard coordinate system for the transfer of spatial data avoids confusion in terms of the projection details, such as the central meridian, standard parallels and spheroid. Establishing conventions in data management (eg negative values for artesian head measurements, positive for water levels below the ground surface) avoids misinterpretation of data. Proper metadata procedures give the data supplier an opportunity to describe the reliability and limitations placed on the dataset.
Financial savings can be realised when common data structures allow organisations to share the development costs of support software. Data custodians and users alike will benefit from the experience and contributions of others in developing software and hardware configurations to support a standard data structure. The pooling of resources will allow the current rapid technological advances to be realised by a larger audience. Software developers can target products within a broader and better-defined market.
What is in the Standards
The data standards have a number of components, namely:
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