The private weather enterprise and government agencies recognize the complexities in this vast information channel. The National Weather Service recently identified a need to shift its strategic thinking in order to focus on "supporting decisions [through] impact based forecasts, warnings and environmental information" (Berchoff 2010). The vision is to transition warning services to mission specific impact criteria; enable decisions through interpretive collaboration; and improve communication of forecast uncertainty (id). The goal is to improve the decision maker's understanding of risk and deliver data in ways that adapt to user needs (id). The explosion in data sources and the simple volume of data require methods to transform copious amounts of weather data into quick, concise situational awareness. Forecasters must be able to quickly identify what matters, where the uncertainty lies, and where the human can add value. Systems must accelerate insight and delineate patterns, probabilities and impact (id).
In order to address these challenges, decision support software development has become a priority for the private weather enterprise and agencies across NOAA. digital-telepathy is a San Diego based software and design company that recently completed a collaboration with scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The project brought together private sector software developers, web designers, private sector meteorologists, energy decision makers and academic researchers. The project resulted in an interactive user experience for analyzing the risk of severe cold outbreaks in the Midwest/Northeast United States. This presentation will demonstrate methods utilized in the software industry to create user friendly interfaces for analyzing large and unmanageable datasets. We focus on elements of artistic design and consumer usability that are utilized by "web 2.0" companies in order to visualize complex quantitative information.