Session 1.6 Maintaining Operational Readiness in a Warning Environment: Development and Use of the Situation Awareness Display System (SADS)

Monday, 4 October 2004: 11:45 AM
Elizabeth M. Quoetone, NOAA/NWS Warning Decision Training Branch, Norman, OK; and D. L. Andra Jr., M. P. Foster, S. E. Nelson, and E. Mahoney

Presentation PDF (240.7 kB)

Ultimately the goal of the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office is to provide for the protection of life and property for the public it serves. As important as notifying the public of an impending weather threat, is the need for the message to be timely, accurate, and consistent between the forecast office and the emergency manager and media partners. Recent advances in technological capability make this coordination not only more necessary, but more challenging. Adding to the challenge is the ever-changing nature of the severe weather warning process. This process is defined by a host of data sets which arrive via numerous sources. As technology has advanced, the amount and complexity of data available to meteorologists has soared in recent years.

One method to address the challenges of coordination, consistency, and communication is by modifying the office strategy to include a warning coordinator position. The warning coordinator is responsible for the “big picture”. They keep a very high level of situation awareness to insure all threats are covered and the message the public is receiving is consistent. To help this position address this task, the Warning Decision Training Branch (WDTB), Weather Forecast office in Norman, Oklahoma (WFO OUN) and the NWS Southern Region Headquarters (NWS SRH) collaborated to design and implement a PC-based Situation Awareness Display System (SADS) during the Spring of 2004. The SADS resides at the WFO Norman and is currently being implemented into severe weather operations. This concept is not unlike that employed by NASA and by military command centers where assimilating and displaying relevant data sets help the critical decision makers keep a high level awareness of the state of the mission.

The paper will discuss the proof of concept of this system as well as lessons learned in its inaugural season. For instance, the way in which a display is populated is critical to maximizing useful information and minimizing distraction. This configuration must be in alignment with the threat at hand, but not so much as to preclude unanticipated events. The design of the display will be discussed, as well as the efforts expended in designing relevant software to take advantage of non-traditional data sets including television and web cams. Cautions with regard to the improper use of such systems will also be discussed.

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