NWS Alaska Regional Operations Center: Providing Critical Decision Support Services for Alaska and the Arctic

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Thursday, 8 January 2015: 8:45 AM
221A-C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Jeffrey M. Osiensky, NOAA/NWS, Anchorage, AK; and A. Fish

The Alaska Regional Operations Center (ROC) is a function within the NWS Alaska Region's Environmental and Scientific Services Division (ESSD). The ROC operates in a “virtual” mode most of the time, however during significant environmental events it can spool up quickly to meet the growing demands of the NWS Alaska field offices, state, federal partners and others.

Alaska is very unique in that it is isolated from the rest of the United States geographically and has a very fragile supply chain structure in place. Environmental events such as volcanic eruptions and tsunamis, whether or not they originate from Alaska, have potentially grave impacts on communication, transportation and infrastructure.

Likewise events outside of Alaska, particularly in the Seattle/Tacoma metropolitan area can have dramatic impacts to the flow of goods, services and telecommunications to Alaska. In addition, there are many “single points of failure” within the state of Alaska that can impact the entire states ability to operate electronic banking for example.

All of these things are very important to understand and necessitates a close working relationship with a broad customer base. The Alaska Partnership for Infrastructure Protection (APIP) is an Alaska unique group of local, state, federal entities partnering with public groups such as utilities, banking and the food retail/warehousing industries to ensure a continuity of operations in the state during a catastrophic event.

Due to the fragile nature of the telecommunications and power infrastructure here in Alaska, a seemingly benign windstorm at the wrong time of the year with trees leafed out can cause uprooted trees, widespread power and telecommunications outages, in Alaska and beyond.

This presentation will focus on some of the unique challenges faced here in Alaska and how the Alaska ROC serves as a single point of DSS to customers and provides reporting up to agency senior leadership.