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NSF-Funded Hubs Partner to Develop the Water-Energy Nexus Open Knowledge Network

By Kimberly Mann Bruch, San Diego Supercomputer Center Communications


The National Science Foundation (NSF) has funded a three-year cooperative agreement award of $1.47 million to create the Water-Energy Nexus Open Knowledge Network (WEN-OKN). This project involves impactful work across the West and Midwest Big Data Innovation Hub regions.


“We are excited to bring together a team of partners with diverse backgrounds and representing multiple sectors, to develop WEN-OKN. It will connect data from vital water and energy systems, and help answer complex questions at the water-energy nexus,” said Principal Investigator (PI) Lilit Yeghiazarian, a professor of environmental engineering at the University of Cincinnati. “ WEN-OKN will become an integral part of critical national data infrastructure.”


The WEN-OKN has two primary goals: 1) create a knowledge graph that interconnects water and energy data throughout the nation and 2) explore ways to mitigate issues that evolve within these connections. The datasets being integrated into WEN-OKN include databases from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Energy (DOE), United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Transportation (DOT), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).


West Hub’s Ilya Zaslavsky, who is the director of the Spatial Information Systems Laboratory at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at UC San Diego, is a co-principal investigator along with the Arizona State University’s Center for Science, Technology and Environment Policy Studies Director Eric Welch.


The Midwest region is represented by PI Yeghiazarian as well as two co-PIs: University of Cincinnati’s Head of Department of Computer Science, College of Engineering and Applied Science Justin Zhan and Siddharth Saksena, who is an assistant civil and environmental engineering professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).


“One of our key technical goals with WEN-OKN is to develop a unified semantic and spatio-temporal framework and create services for extracting energy- and hydrology-specific entities and spatial relationships from multiple databases,” Zaslavsky said. “Integrating these data into federated knowledge graphs will help multiple agencies to get answers to regulatory and policy questions for enhanced water and energy resilience.”


"This work is critical to the Midwest region of the U.S.," said John MacMullen, Executive Director of the Midwest Big Data Innovation Hub. "The connections between water and energy in the Great Lakes region are key drivers for water quality, climate resilience, and agriculture. We are excited to see the impact this work will have on integrating knowledge from disciplines that are deeply connected but often isolated in specialized domains and repositories."


The WEN-OKN has been funded by the NSF (award no. 2333726).

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