A new era for tracking the Great Lakes’ health Credit Carolyn DuBois

If you’ve ever wondered about the health of your local river or lake, seven million open data points are now at your fingertips.

Information ranging from lake temperatures to levels of nitrates in the water is available on  Great Lakes DataStream, a new online platform for sharing water quality data from across Ontario and Quebec.

It’s going live during international  Open Access Week, a global celebration of the power of open data – information that is free to look at and reuse – that runs until October 31.

“From daily COVID-19 rates to water quality at the beach, we’re seeing a global trend towards more data being made accessible to everyone”, explained Carolyn DuBois, who heads Great Lakes DataStream. “Open data is powerful – it helps people make more informed choices.”

Because DataStream is open access, anyone, including scientists and policymakers, can explore the data while being confident in its integrity thanks to blockchain technology. Just last year, data accessed on DataStream helped fill gaps in the  WWF Watershed Reports.

“Having the ability to dig in, and look, and try to understand water quality through data can be a very empowering experience,” explains Larissa Holman of  Ottawa Riverkeeper, one of many water monitoring groups to have shared their data on the platform. “The power of providing people with relevant information about their local waterway should never be undervalued. It can be an incredible way to motivate them to either protect or to improve it.”

“Behind every data point is a person,” says DuBois. “We work with community-based monitoring programs, Indigenous Nations, watershed groups, and all levels of government. We’re excited to be working with passionate water champions from Thunder Bay to Montreal.”

With Great Lakes DataStream joining existing data hubs in the Mackenzie River Basin, Atlantic Canada, and the Lake Winnipeg Basin, DataStream is Canada’s largest independent water data platform – with data from 12 of Canada’s provinces and territories.

Explore data at  greatlakesdatastream.ca/explore.