2.2 CASA WX: Demonstrating Value for Customers and Providers in a Public Private Partnership Model for X-band Radar Networks

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 9:15 AM
Room 244 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Brenda J. Philips, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA; and A. Bajaj, V. Chandrasekar, M. McFadden, J. Ortiz, A. Everly, T. McClung, G. Blase, F. Junyent, R. Stedronsky, P. O. G. Heppner, E. J. Lyons, F. H. Carr, K. A. Brewster, and M. Bloomberg

The Weather Ready Nation Roadmap states that National Weather Service's "future priorities include closing current NEXRAD radar coverage gaps by leveraging existing, non-NOAA-owned radars, and working with the private sector to fill those gaps through deployment of networks of small, gap-filling radars such as those being prototyped in the Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) program". In the same report, NWS also indicates that public-private partnerships can be a means of reducing NWS infrastructure costs, expanding data sharing, and further engaging the Weather Enterprise. While models for private sector ownership, operation, and data sharing of in-situ sensors already exist, questions remain about the value proposition associated with non-NOAA entities owning and operating networks of radars and how specific customers will derive value from such systems to make them financially viable endeavors. The CASA Engineering Research Center has established an innovation infrastructure to help answer these questions. The CASA Dallas Fort Worth Living Lab for Weather Warning Systems (CASA WX) is an innovative partnership among academic institutions, National Weather Service, local DFW government and business user community, radar and other sensor manufacturers and weather data resellers. The CASA hypothesis is that in certain infrastructure rich regions of the country, such as Dallas Fort Worth, where the population is dense and impacts of weather events are high, there will be sufficient need for high resolution, geographically specific, rapidly updating radar-derived products to warrant an investment in radar infrastructure by non-NOAA entities.

In order to validate this hypothesis, CASA has developed end-to-end warning system, that includes sensors, software architecture, products, data dissemination and visualization, and user decision making. In this way, impacts and value of the information can be evaluated in a live environment. Customers from across economic sectors are partnering with CASA WX to help determine the value proposition. All users contribute either monetary or in-kind resources to get access to CASA data and support the operations and development of the network. Local aviation partners include a major international airport, two major airlines, smaller regional airports and local FAA air traffic managers. They are participating in evaluation studies to see how high resolution data from the CASA radars can help with improved decision making when bad weather disrupts flight schedules and negatively impacts the normal flow of passengers, and extends customer service requirements outside the norm. In the healthcare sector, emergency managers from local hospitals and air ambulance operators are evaluating the use of CASA data to keep patients and employees safe when windstorms and tornadoes approach critical facilities. Telecom and utility companies with critical infrastructure assets (such as towers, power and communication lines) are participating in the CASA WX program to see how the data can help them quickly respond to wind storm and icing events.

From the provider side, several national and international manufacturers of short wavelength radars have provided their latest radar offerings for integration to the network. Participating in this network allows them to get insight into customer needs, product specifications and technical requirements for operating radar networks, while also understanding the economics/costs of supporting such networks. The network also allows them to benchmark their products against competitors and create a marketing platform. In addition, providers of in-situ sensors such as sodars and mobile sensors such as MOPEDs are also providing live data into the network to demonstrate how a regional approach to a heterogeneous Network of Networks can help provide a more complete picture of the lowest parts of the atmosphere. Finally, the network has an active involvement from weather data resellers who collect data from radar providers, add value through proprietary algorithms and ultimately provide decision making products to customers. This synergistic relationship between customers, providers and intermediaries in CASA's Living Lab could result in the formation of partnerships that could together support deployments in other parts of the country.

This presentation will discuss the status of the partnership model and the value proposition as perceived by users, providers and intermediaries and present future plans.

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