WIT Press


GROUNDWATER MOBILE APP DEVELOPMENT TO ENGAGE CITIZEN SCIENCE

Price

Free (open access)

Paper DOI

10.2495/WS190101

Volume

239

Pages

14

Page Range

107 - 120

Published

2020

Author(s)

STEFANUS RAINIER DENNIS, INGRID DENNIS

Abstract

Public domain borehole information in South Africa is generally stored in the National Groundwater Archive (NGA) and the Groundwater Resources Information Project (GRIP) databases of which both are centralized databases. The GRIP database is updated by the Department of Water and Sanitation, but only covers one of the nine provinces. The NGA on the other hand covers the entire country, however there is a backlog of borehole information that needs to be captured, and it has limited time series data. The reason for the poor time series data is twofold: (i) groundwater monitoring is expensive due to the distributed nature of the resource (the NGA consists of approximately 280,000 boreholes over an area of 1,225,986 km2); and (ii) consultants tend not to upload data to the national databases as the data is seen as a competitive advantage. During the recent drought experienced in the Western Cape Province (2015–2018), citizens of local communities took to social media, reporting on rainfall and groundwater levels within their communities. With the dams drying up people started targeting groundwater with approximately 30,000 boreholes being drilled. This led to the development of a mobile app for both citizens and groundwater professionals. This app allows logging of borehole information via smart phones. One of the main challenges with populating databases is the verification of data. The mobile app introduces a type of block chain approach where all data is accepted, but marked as low confidence until verified by a trusted user. The vision for the app is a “live” hydro census and even if only water levels are captured, it would improve groundwater management by applying data mining techniques for trend analysis in future.

Keywords

citizen science, borehole database, mobile app.