Data submission

Background on Sharing Data with GEMS/Water

Countries and organizations are invited to provide water quality data from their own monitoring networks to the GEMS/Water Data Centre at the International Centre for Water Resources and Global Change. This is based on Resolution 1/9 of the United Nations Environment Assembly from 27 June 2014, where the mandate of GEMS/Water was reaffirmed.

The resolution emphasized that the World Water Quality Assessment Report, the water-related sustainable development goals and other assessments on the state of freshwater resources at different geographic scales require timely, relevant and reliable data and information from the revitalized GEMS/Water programme in order to inform policymaking at the relevant levels.

It also underlined the need to further improve the global coverage and consistency of water quality data as well as to expand the GEMS/Water network. Therefore, the member states and the scientific community, alongside the relevant United Nations agencies and stakeholders, were invited to cooperate with the GEMS/Water Data Centre in building a reliable global freshwater monitoring and information system and to support relevant initiatives.

Data Policy

Water quality data from the GEMStat database, in accordance with the data policy, may be used for status evaluation, research purposes, or within the scope of education and training initiatives.

The data policy of GEMStat strives to regard the individual restrictions of all data providers and allows them to choose from three data policy options to fit their specific guidelines on data sharing:

  • Open: Raw water quality data is publicly available and can be requested by everyone.
  • Limited: Raw water quality data is shared on written request for non-commercial research only. For every other purpose, only metadata and yearly aggregates on country level can be requested.
  • Restricted: Raw data is not shared and its use by GEMS/Water is limited to UN-assessments and aggregated data products.

The data policy can be set by the data providers on a per-submission level, either for the whole batch of submitted data, or for individual parts of the submission. When opting to set the data policy for individual parts of the submission, this can be accomplished for single stations, individual parameters or whole parameter groups, or even for each single reported value.

In all cases, the data contained in the GEMStat database is the property of the respective data providers.

Data Submission Manual

Currently, the process of data submission to GEMStat is based on e-mail communication. While an option for automated uploads with member log-in will be provided in the mid-term, the workflow described below is the current method of reporting water quality data.

Data providers are requested to use the following Excel templates, where possible, to report stations, analysis methods and water quality values:

  • xls for the reporting of new monitoring stations and analysis methods used to obtain water quality values.
  • xls as a reference for an inventory of water quality parameters and analysis methods already registered in the GEMStat database, as well as for keeping track of monitoring stations and analysis methods previously reported by the individual data providers.
  • xls for the reporting of water quality data for registered monitoring stations and registered combinations of water quality parameters and analysis methods.

The data submission process relies on 2 types of identification codes to correctly assign the reported water quality values to the monitoring stations where the sample was taken, and to the water quality parameter, whose value was analysed from the sample. A third code identifies the analysis method used to obtain the reported value of the water quality parameter.

Therefore, in the first step of the submission process, the data providers receive a pre-filled inventory of all the monitoring stations and analysis methods that have already been reported by the individual data provider in the past. This inventory comes in the form of an Excel file (GEMS_Catalogues.xls) and contains additional information on all water quality parameters and analysis methods that are currently available in the GEMStat database.

After checking and aligning the entries with their current monitoring programmes, the data providers can use the template GEMS_Register_new_Stations_and_Methods.xls to register new analysis methods and stations, or to revise outdated information. This template is then to be sent to the GEMS/Water Data Centre, where the staff check the entries and assign new codes, where applicable, prior to registering the new information in GEMStat.

The GEMS/Water Data Centre then sends an updated inventory of stations and analysis methods back to the data provider. The station codes, as well as the combinations of parameter codes and analysis method codes provided therein are then to be used by the data provider to report water quality data using the GEMS_Data_Submission.xls template.

Following a quality and consistency check, the supplied data are then included into the GEMStat database.