FAQ

Home FAQ

What water data can be found through this website?

This site is just getting started! We aim to provide data on water quantity, water quality, and water use, at a minimum. Other data topics include climate, energy, ecosystems & wildlife, natural hazards, water planning, and infrastructure.

I have water data that I’d like to share, how do I do this?

Please contact us through the Contact tab. Ideally we wish to collect data that is digital, machine readable, open for sharing without restriction, and has clear definitions (data dictionary), and metadata. We will ask you to fill out a metadata form and select data TAGS (to help others find your data) when you submit the data. Data that is in spreadsheet format and other tabular formats are also accepted. A data dictionary is the text description of all the data fields (i.e. column headings or rows, and abbreviations used in the dataset). In addition to a data dictionary, we need to have this minimum of metadata: Who collected the data; What is the data about; Where is the data hosted; Over what time period does the data cover; and, For what purpose was the data collected?

How are you collaborating with others to accomplish this?

The most important collaboration in this effort thus far has been among the directing agencies, and agency partners. In the past it was difficult to share data between agencies, or even between divisions of a single agency. Communication and education on our data challenges and opportunities will continue to be a priority going forward. We are working closely with the Internet of Water, a project based out of Duke University. We are also in communications with the Western States Water Council as they work to improve the Water Data Exchange (WaDE). Also, as New Mexico works to build a 50-Year Water Plan, this water data service will continue to support the data needs, making the development of this plan more efficient.

Why is the Bureau doing this?

The NM Bureau of Geology & Mineral Resources is a non-regulatory state agency, serving as the state geologic survey, and it is a research institution under NM Tech, with a long history of working with geologic and hydrologic data (for example, the Aquifer Mapping Program). The Bureau has worked with state water agencies such as the OSE/ISC and other research institutions such as UNM and the WRRI at NMSU for many years. The legislation that began this project recognized that the Bureau has a strategic role to play in making water data FAIR.

Does the NMWDI take the data?

The NMWDI is a conduit for data. Each agency is still responsible for their own data. That means each agency stores, manages, runs quality control and quality assurance, etc to meet their internal data standards. The NMWDI integrates the data that each agency wants to publicly share via an API.

What is an API and how can I use it?

API stands for “Application Programming Interface” and provides a means for two or more computer programs to interact with each other (you can find more information about APIs here). Depending on how the API is structured, these programs could be running on the same computer or different computers. You might be more familiar with another similar acronym GUI, “Graphical User Interface”. A GUI is the buttons and controls a person uses to interact with a computer program. An API is the same thing except another program, not a person, is the user.

Imagine you want a breakfast burrito. You go to your favorite New Mexican restaurant, check the menu, and place the order with a waiter. The waiter takes your order to the kitchen, where the cook assembles your breakfast burrito. The waiter then brings your food to your table. In this example, the menu is your application. You are sending a request by placing your order with the waiter. An API, like the waiter, is an intermediary who takes your request to the kitchen — the back-end system. You then get the breakfast burrito, or the response from the kitchen through the waiter, or the API.

In the context of NM Water Data, an API allows data from different agencies to be truly interoperable because it enables automated retrieval of data using a program rather than manually navigating websites. This could be especially useful whenever ongoing access to data is required. For example, a person or organization might have a streamflow model that requires input data from NM Water Data. Each time the model is run, the required inputs are automatically downloaded and used without the need for manually downloading data through the data catalog. Not only is automated retrieval easier, it reduces the potential for human error associated with a manual workflow.

In addition to facilitating data access, APIs empower users to create programmatic tools for rapidly searching and parsing datasets. Storing data is also simplified as an API can be used to load data without directly interacting with an underlying database. For example, development of a mobile app used to aggregate water data from multiple agencies is greatly simplified through the use of APIs.

NM Water Data uses the Open Geospatial Consortium ‘SensorThings’ API standard. This standard provides a powerful interface for accessing a variety of ground water data from multiple state agencies. This unified approach makes data sharing robust and transparent.

Using an API requires some technical knowledge, but should be approachable by anyone with some programming experience. We are in the process of developing in-depth resources for accessing NM Water Data SensorThings APIs. You can visit our developer page http://developer.newmexicowaterdata.org/help for more information.

What is a “SensorThings” API?

The details of how a particular API functions are often custom and must be specified by the API developer. However, some APIs follow a standard so that anyone familiar with the standard can quickly utilize that API. Furthermore, any tool built to work with the standard can be leveraged across multiple API’s.

NM Water Data has implemented a “SensorThings” API which follows a structure specified by the Open Geospatial Consortium (https://www.ogc.org/standards/sensorthings). This is a relatively new standard, but enables sophisticated querying of data and has built in functions for filtering and sorting output. We are in the process of developing in-depth resources for accessing NM Water Data SensorThings APIs. Contact us for more information.

Difference between Static and Dynamic data?

Static data is data that does not change over time. All of the data uploaded to the NMWDI data catalog and not a link to an external site or API is static, though external sites and APIs can hold static data as well. The CSV, XML, PDF, JSON, etc files are data sets that are uploaded to the catalog at one point in time and do not constantly change. An example of static data could be site locations or well construction data, which typically does not change much or at all. Static data may also be one time sampling events as part of a review or study that is not expected to continue.

Dynamic data on the other hand, is data that is periodically updated or appended. In the case of NMWDI, this is often a time series data set that is added to daily or other periods of time. The data set grows as new data is made available, and the previous data does not change. An example would be the addition of  new water level measurements for a well. From the data catalog, these are available as links to external sites including the USGS NM Lakes and Reservoirs Data and NOAA Monthly Soil Moisture Measurements, which have dynamic data updated daily and monthly respectively. These external sites have dynamic data displayed on their site and many also have a public API for automated querying and downloading of the data. Many of the links to external sites only host static data that is not periodically updated including the NMED Wetlands Program and OSE Hydrographic Survey and often this static data can be accessed through their public APIs as well.

Another NMWDI resource that hosts dynamic as well as static data provided from various agencies is the SensorThings API. For example, dynamic daily groundwater level data for the City of Albuquerque is available through the SensorThings API. Currently, users can either view this data directly in a web browser, though this can be confusing to users who do not understand the SensorThings API structure. Users who have some programming knowledge can also query this data with the Python programming language by following this tutorial. Development is currently underway for applications that more easily allow general users to query and visualize this data.

How can I help?

Thank you for your interest in participating in this effort! You can donate your data, your time, or your resources to this important project in many ways. Please contact us so we can help best utilize your generosity.

Are we there yet?

There is no blueprint for how to do this – New Mexico is only the 2nd state in the country to have policy directing water data to be shared and interoperable. It is expected to take several years to develop the data catalog and platform for New Mexico’s Water Data. As we begin to bring water data into the open, we are better able to see where we have data, and where we do not. It will illuminate some of the issues we have with how our data are structured that will undoubtedly take some time to revise. It will be a process of taking steps in a forward direction, learning from those steps, revising the plan for the next steps – and moving forward. The more data we share, the more we can do with the data.
X