NOAA Publishes Schedule for Commercial Weather Data Pilot Program

noaa_logoThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released a schedule for its Commercial Weather Data Pilot program, which is aimed at collecting and analyzing commercial data that can be used in weather forecasting.

According to a report the agency provided the Congress, NOAA will begin to acquire data from private sector sources this summer during the fourth quarter of the fiscal year, which begins on July 1.

The agency will then input the data into its systems to determine how useful it is in refining weather forecasts. That work is expected to be completed in fiscal year 2017, which begins on Oct. 1.

The pilot program was mandated by Congress as part of an effort to make use of private sector weather data.

The schedule is shown below in Table 1. The table is followed by the report’s executive summary.

Executive Summary

The report defines a process to complete the Commercial Weather Data Pilot (CWDP) efficiently and as thoroughly as possible given funds appropriated in FY 2016 and recognizing the evaluations authorized with the FY2016 appropriations will extend into FY 2017. Based on our belief that a thorough CWDP warrants more time, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has also requested additional funds for FY 2017 for the CWDP. As we describe below, we are still defining the solicitation, procurement, evaluation, and assessment steps to conduct the CWDP, and as a result we have not yet determined how the FY2016 funds will be distributed between procurements of data, engagement with the commercial entities, and the actual evaluation of the data. Our initial estimate, established for planning purposes, is that approximately 1/3 of these funds will be used to purchase data from commercial vendors, and approximately 2/3 will be used for evaluation. The funds distribution across all necessary functions will be refined as we complete the initial interactions with the commercial providers and as we define NOAA’s assessment activities.

noaa_commercial_weather_data_pilotNOAA will implement the CWDP with the following four primary foci:

I.  Define the end-to-end implementation process for the CWDP;
II. Scope and acquire the data for the CWDP;
III. Ingest and process the data and analyze the outcome and impact of the resulting information; and finally
IV. Issue a report documenting the results of the CWDP activity.

Some of the activities required to complete the CWDP can be conducted in parallel, including refinement of the engagement process, establishment of the evaluation and assessment team, and initiation of the procurement activities. However, there are steps that we must take sequentially, such as conducting the procurement and contractual arrangements with industry, delivery of the on-going data to NOAA, followed by the data evaluation, validation, and trial assimilation (see Table 1 for description of serial critical path activities and parallel activities). On January 8, 2016, NOAA issued its Commercial Space Policy, which sets a broad framework for use of commercial space-based approaches for the agency. NOAA will implement the CWDP consistent with the NOAA Commercial Space Policy and pursuant to the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR).