5.4 From Investment to Operation: A Comparison of Public and Private Business Models

Wednesday, 15 January 2020: 9:15 AM
254A (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Buck Lyons, WeatherFlow Inc., Scotts Valley, CA; and W. Callahan, C. Fiebrich, and S. Woll

The increased utilization of commercial and other non-federal weather data has been predicted and endorsed for more than twenty years in a series of private research and policy analyses, the most important being the National Research Council's 2009 report From the Ground Up: A Nationwide Network of Networks. Recognizing that the federal government nor any other entity had sufficient resources to fully sense everything that was needed to characterize the Earth's boundary layer, this report specifically called for the data from private and public sector networks to be stitched together for use as a network of networks, each designed, funded and operated independently but contributing useful data for collective use. In 2009, the National Mesonet Program (NMP) was the initial National Weather Service (NWS) effort to put this into action, gathering data from state, university, and private weather networks for use by NWS modelers and forecasters. In 2017, this objective was formally codified into law as part of the Weather Research and Forecast Innovation Act.

This increasing momentum to use commercial and non-federal data comes at an auspicious time, as the amount of such data is growing rapidly through small satellites, new profiling technology, and large increases in the amount and quality of data from personal weather stations at homes, businesses, and farms. While this data is certainly plentiful, it is also different from "official" government-collected weather data, and the networks that provide this data are equally different from their government analogs.

Given this environment, this talk will highlight several areas relevant to both the public and private sector business models, to include:

- a review of the most common commercial/non-federal business models, and how they differ from the planning process and financing of federal networks

- a discussion of the best methods for ensuring that NOAA and the global met agencies can fully execute their missions by getting needed access to all available valuable data in this changing environment, including any necessary adjustments to their data acquisition models to make this possible

- a look at comparative station installations, including strength, weakness, quality, and cost considerations

- selected examples of the ongoing operation of several commercial/non-federal networks, and

- selected case studies showing the impact of data from commercial and non-federal networks

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