Reclamation Interactive Visualization and Exploration Resource (RIVER): A model scenario visualization tool for RWIS/RISE

Project ID: 19221
Principal Investigator: Vanessa King
Research Topic: Water Operation Models and Decision Support Systems
Funded Fiscal Years: 2019, 2020 and 2021
Keywords: None

Research Question

How can Reclamation provide opportunities for both internal users and external stakeholders to better utilize Reclamation's modeling results in ways that support decision-making? RWIS and RISE are making great strides in supporting data access across Reclamation and publicly, but there are still limited ways for users to engage with certain types of data, including modeling results. Many types of modeling results require specialized knowledge and/or software in order to interpret them, making them effectively inaccessible to non-technical users.

We propose to support access to and engagement with Reclamation's modeling results by building an interactive web platform, utilizing JavaScript on the RISE visualization server, that will allow users to visualize and compare various modeling scenarios in both map and graphic form. The scope of the project involves selecting two or more models of different types and from different regions, and developing a fully functional, interactive web platform to visualize results from those model types, which will demonstrate the utility of the platform and allow for expansion to additional model types in the future. We will engage with our intended users throughout the project to ensure that the platform meets their needs and to promote its use, and will work with the RISE team to integrate this platform into RISE.

Need and Benefit

Effectively managing water resources requires Reclamation decision-makers to integrate all information available to
them. Reclamation strives to develop and use the best available models, but often, decision-makers lack the
specialized knowledge or tools needed to engage directly with the modeling results, so instead they must rely on
modelers to consolidate the information. This often results in the loss of much of the information provided by the
modeling, and can become a slow and cumbersome process as the modelers and decision-makers iterate through a
process of selecting metrics by which to evaluate the results and producing maps, graphs, or tables that illustrate
these metrics.
This project would largely replace that cumbersome process by allowing decision-makers to directly engage with the
modeling results, efficiently viewing and comparing model scenarios in a variety of ways. Being a web-based tool,
RIVER will also facilitate real-time interactions between study team members and modelers during web-based
meetings which will promote better understanding as well as more open and collaborative decision-making.
All five Reclamation regions engage in a wide variety of planning activities that use results from a variety of model
types. While various modeling communities have developed their own ways of visualizing modeling results, ranging
from spreadsheets to simple web applications, there are currently no visualization tools available within Reclamation
that accomplish this project's goals of flexibility, interactivity, and accessibility to both technical and non-technical
users. We will encourage the adoption of RIVER throughout Reclamation by engaging stakeholders through all
aspects of the design and development process, allowing our intended users to provide input on how this system can
best meet their needs, and by providing outreach, support, and training.
If this research is not funded, Reclamation staff will continue with existing processes for sharing modeling results.
These processes will continue to be time-consuming and to result in utilizing only a small subset of the information
provided by the modeling in decision-making, which may lead to suboptimal decisions.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 6/22/20