This work aims to share the experience gained by the Department of Meteorology and Society of the National Meteorological Service of Argentina. Through this department, this organism tries to generate a dynamic sustained by two main pillars: transdisciplinarity and co-production of knowledge. These two pillars seek to meet a strategic goal: optimize the communication policy through dialogue with multiple users of meteorological information towards co-construction of user’s needs oriented services. On one hand, transdisciplinarity is guaranteed since the Meteorological Service, following the guidelines of the World Meteorological Organization, decides to form a stable working group integrated by sociologists, geographers and anthropologists who constantly interact with all technical sectors within the organism, from the Forecast office, to the Climate or Agro-Meteorology offices debating about the best way of presenting weather and climate information. On the other hand, we say we co-produce knowledge because we establish a specific dynamic of work in which we understand that, without the gaze of those who use the information to make decisions, the cycle of improvement in products and processes is not closed. It is for this reason that we developed some techniques for working with the users that will be referred to throughout this work.
Meteorology, society and disaster risk reduction.
The work of the National Meteorological Service of Argentina with the governmental agencies that manage disaster risk reduction and emergencies is linked, on one hand, to the realization of activities, both with local and provincial governments and their emergency agencies to work on the comprehension of the reports, forecasts and warnings, as a way of building a bridge of understanding between a scientific –technical language to a more simplified style adapted to the function of the decision-making. Between 2015 and 2017 there have been several workshops, seminars, briefings, consultations and advices, always promoting and incentivizing this transdisciplinary interaction that provides a service that considers all the cultural, socio - economic conditions from who use our information to make a decision. We have implemented multiple strategies inherent to social sciences that allow users to interact and become familiar with the weather information, ask questions and simulate situations of severe weather and decision-making in an environment of reflection on the products issued by our Weather Service, working collectively on concepts such as high impact weather (HIW), uncertainty, certainty, probability, etc. We also work strongly with exercises that break down myths and legends of the common sense about the weather and the behavior of the atmosphere that can interfere in the local government decision-making process. At the same time, it is important to mention that this is a very fulfilling experience for the meteorologists that issue warnings from the Forecasts office. They are able to interact with the users who take concrete decisions on the life and property of the population with the information that they issue by themselves. In this dialogue, is evidenced the need for meteorological messages that involve a reduced volume of information, with simple words. Effective, interactive, and redundant messages in multiple channels and formats. It is in these workshops, where we co-construct the links and understandings that reduce real risks. During the year 2016,, we have carried out a pilot project of training on “basic meteorology applied to civil protection”, achieving better results than expected. We believe that training those decision-makers about the interpretation of the products issued by the Weather Service would greatly improved their decision-making. This gives us the pattern of the need to provide adequate training services to those who actually make decisions about the life and property of the population, especially the local governments that are those who must act first.
Where science dialogs
Within the Weather Service our team has managed to begin working with all the departments that generates public information. Either weather forecasting or climate. Information either for aeronautical or agricultural sectors, the press, among others. We have managed to analyze several products focusing on the interaction with the users previous mentioned, resulting in better products adapted to all needs. Thanks to this co- production challenge of making science and different actors to dialog, we know what to say, but we also know what information our users need. On the other hand, there is a strong component of co-construction of knowledge in regards to future projects. An example of this is the work done by the team of social scientists with meteorologists of our organism for the co-construction of new impacts based weather thresholds. To carry out this task , we work with civil protections and meteorological observers at 60 points along and across the country. At the present, a team made of geographers, anthropologists, climatologists and forecasters are processing information and setting new parameters co-constructed in a pure interdisciplinary way.
We strongly believe that if weather information is not understood by those who must use it, this information does not comply with its target, whether it’s a warning, or a climate report. It is for this reason that we are convinced that the basis for a good communication of meteorological information strategy it’s found on the link with the one who uses such information. Without this, no co-construction is possible. In this sense, there are multiple strategies that we, as social scientist, can contribute to improve meteorological services and emergency agencies communication policies. In our opinion, the challenge lies in, that such institutions increasingly incorporate teams with a transdisciplinary dynamic of work to improve intervention in the territory, and therefore, in population with impact of severe phenomena.