The National Weather Service's Emerging Technology Integrated Work Team and Its Role in Information Delivery and Communication via Social Media

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 2:00 PM
221A-C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Corey Pieper, NOAA/NWS, Fort Worth, TX; and M. Hudson, D. R. Deroche, M. Solum, B. Ward, W. Levine, M. Gerber, D. J. Miller, P. K. Pickard, G. Limon, M. Bailey, S. Shea, J. Liang, and S. Potter

Handout (2.6 MB)

The National Weather Service's (NWS) Emerging Technology Integrated Work Team (ET Team), which reports to the NWS Chief Information Officer (CIO), was formed in 2010 to monitor uses of social media and other new technologies and make recommendations to the NWS CIO on potential uses by the agency. The ET team played a pivotal role in the adoption of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Skype, Google Hangouts, Instagram and Flickr across the NWS. These tools are being used to quickly and effectively communicate weather, water, and climate threats, and education and outreach to an ever-growing public following.

A 2011 survey by the American Red Cross shows that 74 percent of Americans expect response agencies to monitor and respond to social media calls for help within an hour after an emergency. Social media also offer an opportunity for the National Weather Service (NWS) to achieve a higher response to its standard suite of alerts and warnings, by crowd-sourcing information and reports about hazardous weather events which help people personalize their threat and motivate action.

Efforts to date have helped to maximize the distribution of NWS information. Introducing emerging technologies into the Federal government brings challenges in the form of training, organization, and bureaucracy. One challenge faced in working with emerging technologies is that they continue to evolve; new technologies present themselves continuously, while others evolve and change beyond their initial intended use. Workload in an NWS office is a second challenge with emerging technologies. The right balance of emerging technologies helps balance workload concerns, allowing NWS staff to focus on sound science so that the message delivers its impact.

Within these challenges, the ET team continues to work to provide the field with the newest tools that can further the NWS mission. This presentation will focus on the challenges, lessons learned, and the path forward for the NWS.