Here’s how space-based data helps secure Australia’s water supply

This week The Australian National University (ANU) Centre for Entrepreneurial Agri-Technology (CEAT) and University of Canberra’s (UC) Centre for Applied Water Science (CAWS) are hosting the online H2O Hack: technology to drought-proof the agrifood sector. The hackathon is a collaboration between the ANU, UC, Wagga-based organisation The Bridge Hub, CSIRO and Charles Sturt University, with the Canberra Innovation Network (CBRIN) as a delivery partner. It aims to generate innovative solutions to future-proof Australian water security.

Director of the ANU Institute for Space, Prof Anna Moore asked the Centre for Entrepreneurial Agri-Technology (CEAT) Director and InSpace Mission Specialist, Prof Owen Atkin about the competition and how these innovative solutions use space data to protect Australians from the effects of drought.

Let’s talk about securing our water supply…

Securing our water supply is critical for Australians. Innovation-creating competitions, like the H2O Hack, help find new solutions to improve water-use efficiency in the agrifood sector across Australia and around the world.

H2O Hack teams have been hard at work all week, trying to develop high-impact solutions with sustainable and scalable business models. There are 12 teams, made up of participants from across Australia as well as overseas.

We have been very pleased with the diverse ideas that are currently under development by this year’s H2O Hack teams. While teams will not submit their final pitches until tomorrow, innovative ideas have already been articulated, from using groundwater in more effective ways to using certain species of plants as a way of maintaining soil moisture.

Collaboration is key to water security…

Participant areas of interest range from synthetic biology to electrical and communications systems, which highlight the ways in which multidisciplinary collaboration can help unlock solutions to wicked problems. We look forward to judging tomorrow, and the team with the most potential for commercialisation and impact will win. Other promising teams will get prizes and opportunities to link with researchers and industry, and participate in the CEAT Innovation Hub.

Here’s how space data helps…

Space data has advanced agricultural-water solutions and plays a key role in the competition. While H2O Hack solutions will not be revealed until each team makes their final pitch tomorrow, each solution will draw on the advances in available satellite data. This critical resource models water storage and movement across farm landscapes, with quantification of moisture levels in soils and vegetation being of particular interest. Such advanced data benefits farmers and provides information needed to model water movement and use along Australia's major rivers.

H2O Hack is guaranteed to generate new ideas to help solve one of Australia’s biggest challenges. We’ll be sure to post the results!

Contacts

Kathleen Sweetapple
Contact email:inspace@anu.edu.au
Contact phone:02 6125 0065