J8.2
User engagement for water resources forecasts: a framework for iterative communication

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Thursday, 27 January 2011: 11:00 AM
User engagement for water resources forecasts: a framework for iterative communication
611 (Washington State Convention Center)
Kevin Werner, NOAA/NWS, Salt Lake City, UT; and K. Averyt and G. Owen

Since 2005, the NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) has been developing an online toolset for its water supply and water resources forecasts and datasets. Engaging with existing and potential stakeholders to better understand their decision making processes and assessing how information is applied to these processes has been an integral part of the ongoing evolution of the water resource web resource. Considering that the tool is intended to be national in scope, it is important to determine the distinct needs of regional users and evaluate the extent to which the tool addresses a diverse set of regional needs.

Here we present the results of a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach to engaging users in a systematic, iterative process. By leveraging social science methods, we use survey instruments, a workshop interface, and scenario exercises to evaluate regional differences and similarities in the utility of the NWS water resource tool. The results are intended to inform NWS developers about distinct user needs so they may improve the product. A critical component is the development, implementation, and application of a dual-purpose usability survey, designed to elicit feedback for developers while teaching potential users about the capabilities of the web resource. To further evaluate how the tool might be applied, and whether the information is being used appropriately, scenario exercises were designed to test the applicability of the tool at different time scales.

Based on initial workshops held in Colorado and Utah, the NWS has made improvements to its water resources tool. This study will present both some of the changes made as well as some of the preliminary findings about forecast usage in the intermountain western United States compared to previous studies that have examined forecast usage in other parts of the country.

Future workshops planned for the central and southeastern US will allow for comparisons among different groups of respondents to ensure that the NWS water resource tool is meeting the needs of a diverse set of users.