In Australia, substantial investment has been made in urban water research; however, as many in the industry know, accessing this growing bank of information and knowledge remains a challenge, as it is spread across many websites, organisations and libraries. Knowing what research is out there is only half the battle – then there is the process of filtering out what is irrelevant and non-reputable.
In 2013, a coalition of Australian water research and development organisations identified the need for a better way of accessing this knowledge, and the idea for Water Research Access Portal, or WRAP, was born. Launched late last year, WRAP is an online database of reputable Australian urban water research. The key aim of WRAP (www.waterportal.com.au) is to make this research readily accessible to the water industry. It does this primarily via a refined search functionality built on themes of national importance. WRAP also has the ability to store research, ensuring that there is no loss of knowledge from the sector as a number of limited-life projects and organisations finish up funding contracts.
So, what types of research can be found on WRAP? There is, of course, the published primary research – publications, research reports, papers, et cetera – however, a key aim of WRAP is also to collate the plethora of useful grey literature out there – such as case studies, conference papers, news articles and project evaluations – which are often of equal importance when trying to apply research to your project. By teaming up with the Australian National Data Service (ANDS), we have ensured that useful urban water research datasets are captured, while not duplicating effort.
Gareth Roeszler, Program Manager of Research at Water Research Australia, says of the new website, ‘Water Research Australia puts a lot of effort into producing useful research publications, and we are keen to maximise access to the findings. When we heard about the development of a new web portal just for high-quality Australian water research, we were keen to be involved. The best feature for me is that it provides easy access to publicly available information, and allows users to home in on just the research organisations they choose. If there is a quicker way to check if work has been done before in an area of interest, I have yet to find it. It’s a great outcome for the water industry’.
WRAP has been developed to be:
• reputable: only credible content from respected organisations
• encompassing: all the main sources of urban water research in Australia
• convenient: single gateway to resources
• selective and targeted: more relevant and targeted search results than Google
• searchable: by keywords and themes.
Key to the success of WRAP is the credibility of the resources available. The resources of WRAP span all the key players in urban water research, including research organisations, universities, utilities, peak bodies and government entities.
There are a number of benefits to users of WRAP:
• Save time: WRAP is easy to use, and we’ve verified that the resources are reputable already.
• Avoid duplication: discover what other research has been undertaken before embarking on your own.
• Connect: find out who is a leader in research for a particular theme to inform collaborative efforts.
• Learn: browse our themes of national significance, and understand key issues facing the urban water sector.
WRAP is a collaborative effort by a number of Australian research centres, government agencies and industry. WRAP is managed by the Water Services Association of Australia.