In any given place at any given time there are a number of interesting things to be seen and documented, and quite often it is! But where does this information go?
Information is frequently collected by individuals from research institutes, government and/or community organisations. This information is then usually analysed and published in scientific journals or reports and communicated to members of the public via interactive mediums (e.g. the Healthy Waterways Report card). While this information loop works quite well it has a number of flaws;
- Time taken to publish is lengthy (3 months – a year!)
- Some work never gets published
- Once published, raw data often gets filed away to ‘collect dust’
- Individuals may spend money collecting information that already exists
- Individuals generally collect data within their field of expertise and as a result don’t have access to other types of data to explore potential connections
This is where the Open River Catalogue comes in to play. By making past, current and even future datasets/information more discoverable we can expand our knowledge base and create new information with combined data from multiple sources.
We decided that in order for the Open River to be really effective we needed to focus on a ‘place’ not on a data discipline (e.g. environmental or social). We initially directed our efforts on finding datasets that were freely available and open. The majority of data we found and described were those from government sources. We then expanded our search and began to chat to universities and research organisations. We compiled detailed metadata about any information collected on our chosen place.
After much discussion we found the best way to detail this was through an online catalogue that allows for users to search and discover datasets, as well as add information pertaining to their own work.