2002 Annual

Tuesday, 15 January 2002: 8:44 AM
Use of the Integrated Terminal Weather System for emergency management in New York City: a case study of leveraged technology
Michael A Rossetti, DOT/Volpe Center, Cambridge, MA; and M. Lee and S. M. Nolan
The goal of this project was to demonstrate the applicability of the Integrated Terminal Weather System (ITWS) for surface transportation and emergency management. To demonstrate the feasibility of leveraging an aviation weather technology, and the use of public-private partnerships, the Volpe Center, MIT Lincoln Laboratories, and the New York City Mayor's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) conducted a test of the ITWS from June 2000 - July 2001. This paper discusses the positive and negative experiences in using this technology, data analysis of several weather events, barriers to success, future prospects for non-aviation technology transfer, and improving and implementing local nowcasting services for surface modes and emergency management.

Developed for the FAA by Lincoln Laboratories, the ITWS is a high-resolution, nowcast system originally designed to operate within the terminal areas of airports having a Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR). New York City is one of four ITWS prototype sites set up to test its effectiveness prior to deployment at over 100 other airports. ITWS fuses data from NEXRAD, TDWR, Aircraft Surveillance Radar (ASR-9), Low Level Windshear Alert System (LLWAS), National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN), AWOS/ASOS, and aircraft. Its products include windshear and microburst detection and prediction, wind fields, storm cells (formation, speed, motion, extrapolated position, growth and decay), gust fronts, tornadoes, lightning, hail, echo tops and mesocyclones. Its primary use is for aviation safety and planning in virtual real-time. But beyond aviation, in the realm of emergency response and surface transportation, ITWS has the capacity to provide safety warnings of high winds, hail, hazardous air quality, hazardous plumes and fog. Other potential uses include automated advisories via radio, traffic flow management, programmed highway signs, and data links to autos. ITWS can also address resource management - emergency repairs of storm damage and weather-impacted mass transit links and flooding.

The New York City area has a complex, intermodal transportation system, and a range of disruptive weather events and emergency management applications. The New York City OEM command center is a large, secure, facility containing state-of-the art capabilities for responding to and managing emergency situations in the boroughs of New York. Its responsibilities also comprise the local transportation system. Disruptive weather is often the cause of emergency response within the urban area, thus requiring access to real-time information and automated guidance. To carry out the partnership project, the OEM financed the communications lines and network equipment, the Volpe Center supplied the workstation and situation display, and MIT/Lincoln provided technical guidance and interpretative information to OEM staff. A variety of barriers emerged, including institutional, financial, technological, and practical. Overall, the OEM found ITWS to be a useful tool, particularly in rapidly changing situations requiring a high degree of spatial resolution. The OEM will continue using ITWS situation display until the NYC prototype site becomes operational during the next two years.

Supplementary URL: