Patrick Atwater of the California Data Collaborative and Greg Gearhart of the California Water Board talk about progress and opportunities to improve water management and drought resiliency. What are the limitations of the water data that’s being collected now? Atwater: “A very concrete problem: Excel. People use Excel as a database, and it’s a useful, but it’s prone to manual error. We’ve evolved since Excel was developed in the last 20 years and there are more modern tools out there. I’ve seen it over and over again – reports to the state, all done in Excel. Or all the data sits in just one place – sometimes mission-critical data sits on one water use efficiency administrator’s desktop and doesn’t get shared internally within the organization.” How can we do a better job at communicating complex data to policymakers, so that we can make integrated, informed decisions and ultimately help the public become better water stewards? Gearhart: “We’re at this moment where technology and data can really make that palatable. They didn’t have a week to set down a data-driven story a year ago, but now maybe they have half a day, and with some of our skills and training we can help them take data and tell that story and fill in that gap.”

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