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Seeing is believing: Sharing progress on Visualising Victoria’s Groundwater project

CeRDI and the University of Ballarat’s Visualising Victoria’s Groundwater (VVG) project is gaining a reputation as a leader in utilising interoperable technologies such as ICT and spatial mapping to combine and manage natural resources data.

The Visualising Victoria’s Groundwater (VVG) project commenced in late 2011 in the Centre for eCommerce and Communications, University of Ballarat, after receiving funding for a two year project from the State Government of Victoria’s Broadband-Enabled Innovation Program. The project utilises new ICT and high speed broadband capabilities to capture, aggregate and spatially depict Victoria's groundwater systems for public access and sustainable development and management. Until the commencement of this project, information about Victoria’s groundwater data was difficult to locate. While data continues to be maintained across different databases by various organisations the VVG project makes it possible to explore Victoria’s groundwater data via one accessible and comprehensive web-portal.

In its first year of operation the project has achieved many milestones. These include the launch in July 2012 of the first iteration of the VVG web portal, culminating in a central data site displaying ground water data from a range of sources (http://www.vvg.org.au/cb_pages/disclaimer.php). The website for the VVG project – the location for the portal – was also launched and provides updates and relevant information about all stages of the project (http://www.vvg.org.au). One of the most recent advances for the project has been the refinements to the access pathways to the data. Following a review of the metadata, an updated portal service has been developed which now provides improved accessibility for users, using desktop programs and software.

Disseminating information about the project and progress to-date has been high on the agenda for researchers involved in this project. In August and September this year, the project was presented at two international conferences, the 34th International Geological Congress, held in Brisbane in August 2012, and the 29th International Association of Hydrogeologists Congress at Niagara Falls, Canada in September 2012. The Brisbane conference attracted over 5000 national and international delegates, while the conference in Canada attracted 900 delegates.

Presenting at both conferences was the University of Ballarat’s Dr Peter Dahlhaus. His presentations showcased the advances in interoperable groundwater data, and the application of geospatial activity in regional areas through the VVG project. Dr Dahlhaus observed that both presentations were extremely well received by conference delegates and commented that “the project attracted attention as one of the few non-government geoscience data portals in the world that uses interoperable technologies to bring together data”.

Interest in UB’s Spatial capabilities and the VVG continues to grow with UB recently invited to participate in the development and trialling of international standards in the ground water mark up language GWML2. This is a unique invitation and recognises the innovative work being undertaken at CeRDI and UB in the field.

It is this interest and the growing recognition of the innovative work of the VVG project that makes this project an exemplar of how natural resources data together with the successful and innovative use of new technologies can produce optimal outcomes for Victorian ground-water users.

The VVG project has been entered in the 2012 Business-Higher Education Round Table (B-HERT) Awards for Outstanding Excellence in Collaboration, in the category of Best Research and Development Collaboration. The Awards will be presented at a Dinner at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre on 8th November 2012.

For further information about the VVG project, contact Dr Helen Thompson (e-mail: h.thompson@ballarat.edu.au) or visit the VVG website: http://www.vvg.org.au

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