PD4.1 Back to the Future: A Community Discussion on Transitioning Social and Behavioral Science into the Next 100 Years

Tuesday, 14 January 2020: 10:45 AM
152 (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Gina M. Eosco, Ph.D, NOAA, Silver Spring, MD; and M. Olson and J. Sprague-Hilderbrand

From the early research on warnings to machine learning algorithms mining social media data, social and behavioral science integration into the weather enterprise has a long and meaningful history. Documenting this history and helping to transform the future of SBS, NOAA’s Office of Weather and Air Quality in partnership with the NWS and Federal Highway Administration, funded a National Academies of Science report on Integrating Social and Behavioral Sciences into the Weather Enterprise. Among the findings is a list of barriers to transitioning SBS research including a lack of shared understanding between the social and physical scientists; cultural differences between research and operations; and a lack of shared language.

Many efforts are underway to improve such transitions. For example, the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act requires NOAA “to ensure continuous development and transition of the latest scientific and technological advances.” While using the phrase “transition” provides a research end goal to incorporate valuable research findings into applications, applying research is multidimensional, and as such requires thoughtful care on where and how research findings transition. Although the Weather Act emphasizes technology, there are also people, policies, and mission that guide the application process surrounding these technologies. Each of these areas require different points of contact and organizational knowledge of the NWS, and ultimately a unique transition process.

Equivalently, social and behavioral science research findings also come in many forms. Results may take the form of tangible to less tangible results, such as developing a new end user software tool to providing knowledge on risk communication message improvements. Both the concrete tools and knowledge are critically important to integrating SBS research into NWS operations and seeing the full value of SBS research on empowering public response.

This panel session will reflect on current SBS R2O challenges, take us back to the future by discussing recommendations and best practices for transitioning SBS research as reported at the SBS R2O Workshop held in September 2019, as well as discuss a community vision for transitioning SBS research for the next 100 years.

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