Coming soon: A “Facebook for hydrologists”

After two years of work, HydroShare, a “Facebook for hydrologists,” will go live in July as an open source website. The HydroShare research team, which includes collaborators from RENCI, Brigham Young University, the University of South Carolina, Purdue University, Tufts University, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of California at San Diego, received a $4.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation in July 2012 for this project.

HydroShare will give hydrologists the technology infrastructure they need to address critical issues related to water quality, accessibility, and management. The open website will be similar to YouTube in that it will allow users to simply drag and drop their models and data to upload to the site, and similar to Amazon, with a message board and rating system. It will provide an online collaborative environment for discovering, accessing and sharing water science research.

Ray Idaszak, collaborative environments director at RENCI and one of the project leaders, said the team plans to announce the first production release of HydroShare at the Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc. (CUAHSI) Biennial Colloquium, to be held July 28-30 at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV. CUAHSI is a nonprofit research organization representing more than 110 U.S. universities and international research organizations that work to advance water science research.

The project’s lead Principal Investigator (PI), David Tarboton of Utah State University, will also attend the Colloquium, as will RENCI’s Jeff Heard, the lead architect of the Hydroshare website.

“Scientific problems related to water—how to maintain quality, manage scarce water resources, and ensure accessibility—are fundamental to the health of our planet and its societies,” said Idaszak. “Hydroshare will help water scientists share and publish their data and make it easier for them to collaborate and address these critical challenges.”

Yes, social media bombards us with a lot of trivial information every day (cutest baby animal photo of the day, anyone?). But HydroShare proves that Facebook-like functionality can also help scientists solve crucial environmental problems.