Monday, 11 January 2016: 11:45 AM
Room 255/257 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
The National Weather Service (NWS) Operations Proving Ground (OPG) has been developed as a NWS Weather-Ready Nation Services Roadmap initiative to evaluate new tools, techniques, and capabilities by NWS forecasters in a realistic Weather Forecast Office (WFO) environment. During an OPG evaluation, forecasters are asked to assess new capabilities with respect to their value for operational decision making, situational awareness and potential to improve the forecast process. Where relevant, effects on other critical operational issues, such as implications for risk communication and possible workload impacts, are also explored. When the OPG was established in 2013, the initial focus was on drafting a charter and developing the systems and infrastructure of the facility. At that time, the OPG charter stated the process for a new tool or capability to be considered for evaluation at the OPG was through fixed announcements of opportunity to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Testbeds, Proving Grounds, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Short-term Prediction Research and Transition Center. However, the OPG has realized this criterion may be too rigid. Many new tools and capabilities that have reached a level of maturity suitable for an OPG evaluation emerge from NWS Regional Headquarters and Weather Forecast Offices (WFO). For example, the NWS Digital Aviation Services (DAS) project originated within the NWS Eastern Region Headquarters and does not link to a NOAA Testbed or Proving Ground. Since DAS has the potential to impact aviation operations and services at every WFO, it is important for the OPG to assist in organizing an evaluation before DAS is implemented across the NWS. The OPG has modified its charter to include NWS organized projects with an open-ended candidate capability announcement that has clear maturity attributes. Another aspect of the OPG's recent evolution pertains to how its systems and infrastructure are utilized in the research-to-operations process. In order to ensure new tools and capabilities would efficiently operate in the field, the OPG systems were originally configured to replicate existing WFO operations. Recently, however, it has become apparent that the OPG could play a role in prototyping operational systems for the WFO of the future. For example, OPG is now exploring techniques that exploit cloud architecture and virtualization, which may enhance operational flexibility while reducing overall refresh costs and minimizing the physical footprint of the WFO infrastructure. This presentation will discuss how the OPG has evolved over the last year and how lessons learned have led to modifications of the charter that will allow the OPG to play an important and unique role in transitioning valuable science and technology to NWS field forecasters.
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