Best practice modelling

A best practice approach describes “a series of quality assurance principles and actions to ensure that model development, implementation and application are the best achievable, commensurate with the intended purpose.” (eWater 2010).

As a major provider of models to the water sector, we have a responsibility to provide modelling capacity that is created under a suite of best quality assurance practices and is robust, reliable and user-friendly. We also have a responsibility to ensure that model application is fully supported by clear principles, practices and guidelines for use that are underpinned by a quality assured documentation process.

The overall aim is to promote a consistent, best practice approach to modelling for water resource management across Australia. This will guide the continuing development of models that are fit for purpose, scientifically sound and quality assured.

Best practice model application

eWater will provide a comprehensive user support package to promote a best practice approach to model application. The overall objective is to ensure modelling outcomes are quality assured, and are transparent, repeatable and defensible and can be effectively communicated to water managers, decision makers and the community.

This includes a range of Best Practice Modelling (BPM) Guidelines that can be used to guide application of eWater tools to address water management problems, and provide sound decision support to end-users of model results. At the highest level is the generic BPM Guidelines that provide a high level framework for a set of domain specific and model/product specific guidelines. Guidelines applicable to specific aspects of Source functionality – for example rainfall-runoff modelling and modelling groundwater-surface water interactions – are now available, with others to follow.

The Source user support package includes:

  • Model implementation governance
  • Best Practice Modelling Guidelines
  • Rules of thumb to guide users through common situations
  • Documentation: user manuals, scientific reference guides, training manuals, training materials
  • Software for uncertainty and decision science analysis
  • Guidelines for model selection
  • Guidelines for model use
  • Tips and ideas in software / documentation
  • Uncertainty framework to assist in interpretation and communication of results with stakeholders
  • Training
  • User groups and a community of practice

Best practice software development

Formal project management framework

eWater’s approach ensures software is developed according to a best practice framework, embracing stakeholder governance, formal capture of user requirements, technical specification and review, testing procedures, software quality assurance procedures and usability testing. This is all undertaken through an industry standard project management framework. Models are based on the best appropriate science for the intended purpose, and considering data and scale constraints.

A collaborative national development process

The success of Source requires a close relationship with the end users and, as a result, our company members from the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) have key roles in overseeing the processes and outcomes of the projects. They contribute staff to model development and software testing, provide guidance and technical oversight, and trial and report on Source in their own catchments to provide feedback on performance, usability and functionality. This consistent national approach ensures that the development is aligned with the needs of the users across Australia, will have a functional design, is fit for purpose and is being built according to well-established priorities.

eWater, in particular the Source project, has a long history of strong engagement through multi‐level governance committees and this will continue in the National Hydrological Modelling Platform (NHMP) project. 

The Source integrated modelling system is a key resource underpinning the long term success of the NHMP. Source has been developed, through the eWater Cooperative Research Centre, with the direct involvement of most of the major water resource management agencies in Australia. Following the conclusion of the eWater CRC project, Source is managed and supported by eWater Limited.

Agreement of specific tasks, priorities and deliverable timelines for this project will be delegated to the following groups:

  • Steering Committee: made up of one senior representative from each of the participating jurisdictions, chaired by the Commonwealth representative. The Steering Committee will meet at least twice yearly to ensure progress against objectives and milestone deliverables as set out in the Annual Operational Plan. The responsibilities of the Steering Committee include monitoring the performance of the projects, providing advice and direction, reflecting the needs and expectations of stakeholder groups and providing governance gate review.
  • Technical Working Group: made up of representatives from each jurisdiction, supports the Steering Committee, and provides advice on the specific technical requirements of the products, as well as feedback on infrastructure and architecture. Key roles include testing functionality throughout development, implementing user acceptance tests to ensure Source meets the needs of users, and providing feedback on Source functionality and capability. The Technical Working Group will meet at least four times a year.
  • Implementation Teams: It is anticipated that the jurisdiction technical staff that are working actively on the NHMP application trials will themselves support their relevant member of the Technical Working Group.

It is expected that these governance groups, acting in concert, will discuss and agree:

  • The scope and nature of activities and tasks to be undertaken, as outlined in the Annual Operational Plan
  • Priority setting between and within each of the activity areas to ensure that scope is consistent with project resource availability
  • Balancing of effort and deliverables across jurisdictions
  • Participation of agreed staff (cash and in kind) against Annual Operational Plan
  • Performance review and sign-off on milestone completion.