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16 Mar 2022

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In the Mekong River Delta, IoT-based data sharing is becoming increasingly important

Southeast Asia's largest river, the Mekong, influences the economies and societies of countries such as Vietnam, Lao PDR, Cambodia and Thailand. According to a new report by the Mekong River Commission (MRC), both water-infrastructure projects and climate change are now affecting the delta. Meanwhile, millions of people and businesses depend on the river. The MRC calls for more and better “water diplomacy”. IoT-based data sharing is key to this diplomacy.

The new report (the so-called “Achievement Report”) showcases the major accomplishments, actions taken, and key indicators that show how economic development and increasing floods and droughts all impact the Lower Mekong River Basin. MRC member nations have responded by taking coordinated measures, including with their two neighbors upriver, China and Myanmar.

importance of IoT-based data

A number of lessons learned are also discussed in the 174-page report. Among them is the importance of IoT-based data collection and data sharing. The report recommends that timely data and scientifically rigorous knowledge should drive decision making and planning.

A specific example of this is its Regional Flood and Drought Management Center, which in 2017 was expanded to include drought forecasting. To accomplish this goal, IoT data collection and data sharing have proven crucial. Feeding this data into forecasting models has helped save lives and protect property in the Lower Mekong River Basin over the years. A noteworthy aspect of this improved forecasting is that it is the result of deeper regional relationships, especially with China, which has for the first time agreed to share its dry-season hydrological data.

Data sharing

The Mekong Regional Commission has established joint expert groups representing all six countries in the region. Experts from these groups provide technical assistance for proactive planning. Information and monitoring systems help coordinate operations across all participating nations. The expert groups' data sharing already played a key role in the planning of three new hydropower plants crucial to regional economies.

Photo credit: Anne Lin

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