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Data storage (Data bases and hydrological information systems)

The popularization of Information Technology and the rapid decrease of its costs in parallel with the increase of their performances have largely benefited handling and archiving of hydrological data. Major advances in software, operating systems, hardware and network communications have made available to the hydrological community an ever improving array of tools for collection and storage of data, and production and dissemination of derived information. Hydrological data bases and information systems, on mainframes in the ‘70 or on personal computers now, have been in use for many decades and represent an indispensable tool for the hydrologist’s work.

While in the past in-house development of the system was common practice, the increasing number of applications and functionality to be implemented, the need of interfacing with GIS or the Web, the need for user friendly interfaces and to satisfy a greater range of end-users requirements, call for a level of IT expertise that is not always available to NHSs. As a consequence making use of off-the-shelf commercial packages is getting more common.

The endeavour of designing, acquiring or updating their system for storage of hydrometric data and production of relevant information can be challenging and difficult even for the most advanced and best equipped NHSs. This process includes several phased such as the analysis of the current system with particular emphasis on its weakness and unsatisfied needs, the identification of required improvements through a wide consultation from managers to end-users, the definition of the requirements (including software functionality, hardware, networking, training, technical supports and guarantee, etc), the careful preparation of tendering documents and the evaluation of the proposals by suppliers.

To support NHS in this task WMO, in cooperation with Water Survey of Canada and based on their experience, has developed guidance on the identification of the required functionalities and processed of a hydrological information systems and on the methodology for the intercomparison of commercially available software packages.






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