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Improving a Classic Outreach Model by Integrating Researchers and Information-users: the Coastal and Inland Flood Observation and Warning Information System (CI-FLOW)

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Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Improving a Classic Outreach Model by Integrating Researchers and Information-users: the Coastal and Inland Flood Observation and Warning Information System (CI-FLOW)
Washington State Convention Center
John F. Thigpen III, North Carolina Sea Grant, Raleigh, NC; and S. Van Cooten, K. Kelleher, K. Nemunaitis-Monroe, L. Spence, R. H. Bacon, K. M. Patterson, D. Figursky, R. Bandy, and J. G. W. Kelley

Abstract Researchers and information users are typically in different institutional settings, each with different sets of communication skills, attitudes, knowledge, social systems and cultures. Drawing on work done in the 1960s (Berlo and others), the role of outreach and education in the scientific process is to help the “source” of information (researchers) reciprocally communicate with the “receiver” (information users) in an iterative process that results in satisfied users and better science. The key is to understand the context in which both the source and the receiver operate, then to design messages in ways that accurately transmit the information so that it can be easily understood and appreciated by the receiver . The CI-FLOW project uses a 21st century version of the model, which adds multiple feed-back loops and intermediary information “packagers” to allow “receivers” the ability to modify and improve message format and delivery. CI-FLOW is an inter-disciplinary multi-agency consortium focused on the mitigation of coastal hydrologic hazards in the Pamlico,Tar and Neuse River Basins of North Carolina. CI-FLOW is a unique program in that is coupling precipitation analysis and forecasts, river, wave, and storm surge modeling systems to provide more accurate total water predictions for estuarine rive systems. From its inception, the project has brought together weather and river forecasters, government and academic researchers, outreach specialists and the customers that will use CI-FLOW products to plan, design and test emerging and more effective methods to communicate inland and coastal flood forecast information. This paper how the modified model is being used to bring researchers and information users together to identify the most useful information elements and the best methods of displaying and transferring the information with cutting-edge technology.