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BC Water Science Strategy

Information Sharing Across the Water Community

In March 2012, Ministry of Environment facilitated conversations with the water science community about how we can work together to increase access to water data and information to support sustainable water use and management in BC. This qualitative research was undertaken through four online focus groups and an online comment form.

Key questions included:

  • What data or information do you not currently have access to that you think should be more available? What would you be able to do if you had access to that data or information?
  • How can knowledge about BC’s water resources best be shared? What tools would be most useful to the BC water science community? What features would these tools have?
  • What role do different stakeholders have in improving online communication and community building?

We heard from 31 people during the focus groups and 27 respondents through the online comment form. Participants included representatives from a wide range of sectors from all across British Columbia. Key themes emerging from this research were:

  • practitioners strongly desire better access to data and information and believe this would help them do their work better;
  • people are overwhelmed by various barriers to sharing data and information and by the sheer number of tools and resources out there;
  • one of the main barriers to the success of new online resources is the ability to keep the material and tools up to date;
  • people have different ideas about what they want from new online tools and what would work to meet their needs; there may not be one data-sharing tool that will fit all users;
  • despite different needs and interests, people found commonality on various specific suggestions about how to improve data sharing;
  • participants agree that the Province has key responsibilities, but there are differences of opinion about exactly what role it should take.

For an in-depth look at what we heard, please see the Water Data and Information Sharing: Qualitative Research Report [PDF 848KB].

Next Steps

This research helped us develop a better understanding of the existing water information sharing tools out there, unmet needs within the water science community, barriers to information sharing, and general preferences for information sharing tools. At this stage, the ideal solution that would address the needs of the water science community while minimizing barriers has not been clearly defined. However, this may include creation of new online tools, collaborating with other organizations to improve support for existing tools, or development of non-internet based products or processes.

Ministry of Environment is currently reviewing the research results and considering options for proceeding. It is committed to enhancing water information sharing in a collaborative way with the water science community. That’s why we’d like to hear your views on what steps to take next. Once you’ve reviewed the research report, please share your practical ideas for meeting the water information sharing challenge via email to [email protected].

Based on your feedback and an assessment of the results, Ministry of Environment will develop and share a proposed action plan for enhancing water information sharing.

Background Information

Summary report of existing online information resources for water science practitioners
» A Summary of Online Water Data & Information Resources for BC [PDF 387KB; Updated Feb. 28, 2012]
Detailed listing of existing online information resources for water science practitioners
» Detailed Listing of Online Water Information Resources for BC [PDF | XLSX; Updated Feb. 28, 2012]

A water science website was included in the summary if it targeted audiences at a provincial or at least drainage basin scale. However, the summary of water science resources may not be exhaustive. Please contact us at [email protected] if you wish to have a website added.