NJStorm.org: Creating and Curating an Online Dashboard of Critical, Realtime Weather Data

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Thursday, 6 February 2014: 8:30 AM
Room C106 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Daniel A. Zarrow, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ; and D. A. Robinson, M. R. Gerbush, J. Read, and C. Shmukler

In the days and hours before Superstorm Sandy made landfall near Atlantic City, New Jersey on October 29, 2012, the staff of the Office of the New Jersey State Climatologist rushed to develop and launch an interactive web portal to track the storm. This storm “dashboard” (SandyNJ.com) made use of the New Jersey Weather & Climate Network's 55 weather stations reporting every 5 minutes to provide high resolution insight into the storm's impacts across the state. Thanks to extensive media coverage, viral sharing via social media networks, and wide exposure among the emergency management community, the Sandy NJ Weather Dashboard experienced, by several orders of magnitude, the highest web traffic ever recorded on the ONJSC domain.

Given the success of the Sandy dashboard, an endeavor was begun to continue developing the dashboard as a highly focused and storm-based source of New Jersey weather information. Since the character and danger of every weather system is unique, we are able to dynamically customize the public web dashboard as a weather event unfolds. Over 20 dashboard modules have been developed, including maps, graphs, and text displays, which can be easily and instantly dropped into the dashboard display. Our team of meteorologists and climatologists at the ONJSC is tasked with “curating” the dashboard, to show the most interesting and relevant data at any time.

The latest version of the NJ Storm Dashboard (NJStorm.org) has operated with great success during thunderstorms, flooding events, winter storms, heat waves, and more. We have also constructed web applications within the dashboard infrastructure for monitoring drought, fire weather conditions, and Super Bowl XLVIII.

This presentation will explain the evolution of our philosophy behind this purpose-built, human-curated data interface, according to feedback from stakeholders, decision makers, the media, and the public. We will also share the blueprint of the technical infrastructure of the dashboard interface, discuss the product's successes and limitations, and detail plans for future development. This includes optimization for mobile devices and social media integration.