The NWS strategic intent to provide forecasts in digital form becomes a reality through the nationwide implementation of IFPS. Some of the challenges which this digital technology brings to the NWS are to: develop a seamless suite of NWS products which are spatially consistent across WFO boundaries; establish a process for new product standardization; and to establish policy for products in new formats such as graphical imagery and gridded fields.
A Rapid Prototype Project (RPP) was established in 1999 to provide a means to improve the IFPS capabilities and prototype experimental products. The RPP fosters effective communication between the users and developers and has established an iterative process for requirement refinement. RPP experimentation conducted at designated NWS sites have demonstrated that IFPS capabilities for product generation in new formats, such as gridded and graphical imagery, can be used to provide new and improved products and services to NWS users and partners.
The NWS Digital Forecast Database (NDFD) will provide NWS customers and partners access to a mosaic of the IFPS generated digital products prepared at WFOs. The demonstration of this project, conducted during FY02, will provide an opportunity to implement procedures and new IFPS capabilities for Intersite Coordination in order to ensure the spatial consistency of the Digital Forecast Database.
To establish a process for implementation of new products generated by IFPS and other NWS systems, a New Product Vision Team has been established for the NWS. The focus of this team is to review and recommend new products for implementation. Implementation will include the product standardization, customer outreach for validation of the requirements, and policy documentation required for the full nationwide availability of the new products.
There are remaining strategic challenges which the NWS will face as the digital forecast technology provided by IFPS matures. The primary challenges include: ensuring that the NWS continues to meet the evolving customer and user needs; enhancing cooperation with the private sector by building partnerships; and crafting the strategic architecture necessary to accomplish NWS goals for future products and services.