188 Oklahoma's OK-First Weather Education Program for Emergency Managers: 15 Years of Lessons Learned and a Look Towards the Future

Tuesday, 8 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
James Hocker, Oklahoma Climatological Survey, Norman, OK; and A. Melvin, K. Kloesel, and C. Fiebrich

Handout (4.7 MB)

Since 1996 the Oklahoma Climatological Survey/Oklahoma Mesonet has worked closely with public safety officials across Oklahoma to provide weather education and training, information and tools, and customer support through the OK-First program. Funded initially as a telecommunications infrastructure grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce to provide emergency managers with a weather information portal and associated training, OK-First is sustained today by the taxpayers of Oklahoma. The mission of OK-First is virtually the same today as in the beginning – to empower emergency managers with information and knowledge to make critical weather-related decisions.

While the mission of OK-First remains the same, the methods used to accomplish the program's training and information dissemination needs are ever evolving, as are the technological needs, capabilities, and expectations of the users the program serves. In addition, the program exists in a different era today than in the 1990s. Whereas weather information was largely unavailable to emergency managers in 1997, a wealth of weather information is now readily accessible via a variety of technological platforms, targeted for a broad spectrum of sometimes dissimilar users. While the mission of OK-First remains largely the same, the role of the program, the techniques used to meet its mission, and the breadth of responsibilities of today's emergency manager most certainly have changed.

In this presentation OK-First staff will take a look back at lessons learned over the 15-year history of the program and provide a forward-looking view of how programs such as OK-First contribute to a more Weather Ready Nation.

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