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Bioinformatics, nexus of water quality & big data ecology

November 13, 2023

The collection and reporting of environmental data is increasingly automated. However, staff members are losing time and attention to analyzing larger datasets.

On the other hand, water quality professionals and aquatic ecologists are gaining influence in decision-making. The shift is notable as more data and science inform integrated water management practices. Focused on sustaining clean water, proactive utilities and watershed agencies are cultivating a new breed of professional — the bioinformatician.

The bioinformatician

Beyond routine statistics, this role requires a deeper understanding of ecology. Yes, they can analyze laboratory test results and biological observations. They also understand the nuanced role of water chemistry within hydrology. Furthermore, they have insights about the IT, or information systems, necessary to archive, compute and present value-added information.

Bioinformaticscovers much more than routine statistics.It also includes aspects of data management (storage and retrieval), database design, and data visualization (especially important these days when trying to summarize massive data sets and highly complex analytical outcomes),” explains Michael B. Black, Ph.D. of biotechnology firm ScitoVation.

The bioinformatician’s tools

Analyzing a broader spectrum of biological data — and more importantly, connecting the dots and making sense of the picture — requires tools that are sophisticated yet easy to use. Leveraging 30 years of water data management expertise and global partnerships, KISTERS has developed a flexible and reliable system for storing, analyzing and sharing biological data among diverse data consumers. The software KiECO makes available to ecologists and water resource managers what once seemed accessible only to the biotechnology sector.

By integrating this ecological module with a comprehensive environmental data management system, WISKI provides deeper insight to environmental agencies. Descriptive metadata such as taxonomies and time series data are tracked easily. Graphs, tables and maps save time as they quickly reveal and help assess trends. Software users can define an acceptable range for each parameter to represent a healthy watershed. Alternatively, they can be alerted to emerging threats or missing data.

In the era of big data, where information is imported at an accelerating rate, automating the pipeline for data analysis becomes invaluable.

Data managers are no longer trying to understand the entire dataset, observes Titus Brown, Ph.D. who directs the Lab for Data Intensive Biology at University of California, Davis. He notes, “(They’re) trying to focus on the bits that might be interesting… Don’t reinvent wheels; figure out how to connect them to your biology, and then focus on the bits that are interesting and important for your science.”

While you concentrate on protecting clean, safe drinking water and the environmental, KISTERS remains dedicated to developing and maintaining robust, scalable software that supports your evolving needs.

Learn more about our integrated modules that address your specific ecological and hydrological data needs.