ESRL Global Systems Division

GSD Hosts Hazard Services Focal Point Focus Group Workshop in Boulder, CO

In collaboration with the National Weather Service (NWS) and Raytheon Technical Services, ESRL/Global Systems Division staff are developing a new Hazard Services system for NWS forecasters. Hazard Services promises to revolutionize and streamline NWS operations by integrating software tools into a common interface for issuing timely and accurate hazard information and building a two-way communication platform for collaboration among all decision-makers.

On June 10 - 12, 2014 ESRL/GSD/Information Systems Branch hosted a Hazard Services Focal Points Focus Group workshop at the David Skaggs Research Center in Boulder, Colorado. The purpose of the workshop was to engage NWS field staff in the Hazard Services development, with an emphasis on customizing the product generation aspect of the system. Each of the current hazard tools, RiverPro for floods, WarnGen for convective hazards including flash floods, and Graphical Hazards Generator for other hazards such as winter weather, uses its own type of product templates that are customized at field offices. These are being unified in Hazard Services; developers must work closely with representative Focal Points who understand the legacy functions to migrate it to the new process. Eventually, a Focal Point at each office will need to be trained in how the customization will work, and this workshop was the first opportunity to begin the learning process and validate the approach.

Overall, the feedback was positive with regard to the Hazard Services configuration and customization infrastructure for Focal Points to set up for operations. There were progressive phases of hands-on experience with the process for migrating functions to Hazard Services. This work is now continuing with remote teams including GSD and Raytheon developers and Focal Points who attended the workshop.

The Hazard Services Project started from a recognition that NWS hazard operations need to be simplified and streamlined to provide forecasters better tools to perform their mission-critical job of providing lifesaving watches, warnings, and advisories. It is also part of an effort to support new avenues for disseminating hazard information in a world of rapidly evolving social media and mobile devices. The Hazard Services application started as the Next Generation Warning Tool with a series of workshops used to gather ideas and requirements from potential users, including external partners, social scientists, software engineers, meteorologists, and hydrologists from the public and private sectors.

The technology currently being developed will be integrated into the second generation of the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS II) as part of the Common AWIPS Visualization Environment (CAVE). It will be used to facilitate collaborative exchanges of hazard information between NWS forecasters and its external partners, including emergency managers and law enforcement officers.

A cornerstone of a Weather-Ready Nation, Hazard Services will sustain the ability to communicate hazard information effectively in a digital world, and will improve NWS operations by:

  • streamlining the forecaster's workflow through combining functions from three AWIPS legacy warning applications;
  • providing a wider variety of hazard products in an information-centric operation; and
  • enhancing collaboration and data sharing between forecasters and NWS partners.

Contact information
Name: Tracy L Hansen
Tel: 303-497-6569