Learning to float in a data driven business

As a geography undergraduate looking for an internship, I had hoped to land in an organization that would give me a glimpse of the subject as it was applied. At the Hydroinformatics Institute, I got that - and more.

Over the last two months that I have spent at H2i, which helps countries and companies manage the earth’s most critical resource, I have had a close up view of how big data and technology intersects with the environment. For a student who had, till now, gleaned her water knowledge largely from textbook and theory, the experience has been both intimidating and eye opening.

Learning to handle data was initially mind-boggling. But what seemed to be a blur of numbers on an excel sheet has since started to make sense. Thanks to the patience of my colleagues, patterns began to emerge, about rainfall and floods, or about climatic patterns, and I learnt to see the stories that the numbers presented.

But beyond seeing those stories, I’ve also had opportunities to learn to tell some stories, and how narratives are critical to science and technology – more than just data scientists need to understand what the numbers mean. To that end, I had a chance to create several articles about our projects for our website and LinkedIn page. When I participated in the Singapore International Water Week (SIWW), for example, I heard about the many complex water issues the world faces today and wrote about the innovations that are helping the world manage them better.

While my time here has been short, it certainly has given me a deeper understanding of the complexities of water management and what companies like H2i are doing to help governments and corporations deal with them.

As I continue my studies in geography and sustainable development, it is with a view to return to the sector, so I can do my part in creating a better future. When I do, I am sure the blur of numbers will all make even more sense.

Thank you, H2i, for giving me this opportunity.