The Past and Present NWS Forecaster Workstations, and a Call for the Development of a NWS System of Systems (NWS SoS)

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015: 11:45 AM
132AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
James E. Lee, NOAA/NWS Baltimore/Washington Weather Forecast Office, Sterling, VA

Over the past several decades, field forecasters of the National Weather Service (NWS) have had several computerized meteorological workstations in which to practice their trade, including the Automated Field Operations System (AFOS), Pathfinder, the Advanced Weather and Interactive Processing System (AWIPS), and currently AWIPS II. Under the current NWS Weather Forecast Office environment, there are many mission-critical hydrological, meteorological, observational, and communication applications residing on disparate computing platforms ranging from AWIPS to stand-alone personal computers, utilizing operating systems ranging from LINUX to SCO Unix to various versions of Windows.

This presentation will begin with a brief historical review of the technological workstations in NWS field offices going back to AFOS. However, the primary focus of the presentation will describe the need to fully integrate the NWS mission-critical applications into a single NWS System of Systems (SoS), and a call to initiate system planning and development of a system requirements process for the NWS SoS.

The case will be made that efficiencies and effectiveness will be realized through fully integrating onto a single operating platform the multitude of hydrological, meteorological, observational, and communication applications, which are today implemented across a myriad of increasingly obsolete computing systems. New operational requirements need to be identified that streamline decision support services, integrate digital databases across field office boundaries, produce geographic information systems-friendly output, provide real-time verification of models and forecasts, and introduce artificial intelligence to support the increasingly-complex forecast process. Major system acquisition is a multi-year effort, and it is never too early to start planning for the next NWS field forecaster workstation.

In summary, this paper will outline the need for a single NWS SoS, which when fielded, will ultimately help achieve the vision of a Weather-Ready Nation by equipping NWS forecasters with the best possible technology to accomplish the NWS Mission.