First Symposium on Policy Research


Replicating Innovation: Successes and Challenges

Dale A. Morris, Oklahoma Climatological Survey, Norman, OK; and M. A. Shafer and D. S. Arndt

In the early 1990s, the Oklahoma Climatological Survey (OCS) established the Oklahoma Mesonet through a partnership with Oklahoma State University. OCS also created several outreach programs built upon the foundation of the Mesonet. One of these programs, the OK-FIRST Program, was designed to provide current environmental information and an accompanying decision-support system for local public safety personnel across Oklahoma. To participate in OK-FIRST, over 150 local agencies which included emergency management, law enforcement, and fire service, had to complete a mandatory, week-long training regimen and to maintain certification through continuing education. OK-FIRST was created, in part, to help improve communication between the weather enterprise and local officials as recommended by a series of Service Assessments published by the National Weather Service.

OK-FIRST has been widely recognized for its public benefit and innovation. This recognition includes a Special Award from the American Meteorological Society, international recognition in the information technology field via the Stockholm Challenge, and winning the coveted Innovations in American Government Award from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in 2001. Besides satisfying a rigorous and academic definition of innovation, the Harvard award is given to programs that are judged to have a relatively high degree of replicability; the award provides funding to assist in replication efforts.

Since the Innovations Award, the OK-FIRST program has worked to publicize its successes in a variety of ways including through AMS publications and conferences, and by conducting workshops for personnel beyond Oklahoma. Despite these efforts, wholesale replication of OK-FIRST has not occurred. This study will examine and attempt to assess the factors that allowed OK-FIRST to have success in Oklahoma and that seem to prevent its replication elsewhere. These factors may include the personalities of OCS staff, the population and demographics of Oklahoma versus other states, and policy differences among the various states.

extended abstract  Extended Abstract (220K)

wrf recording  Recorded presentation

Session 2, Economics and Weather: Methods and Applications
Thursday, 2 February 2006, 8:30 AM-12:00 PM, A307

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