Houston Intercontinental Airport, 24 April 2008

The agenda for this meeting is given as Appendix 1. It was agreed that we would begin at 8:00 am with agenda item 1 and continue with items in order until the majority of participants had to depart. These notes briefly describe the discussion/conclusions relative to the agenda items.

  1. Method for improving inter-RA communications.
    1. The informal contacts between the IT staff of CaRA, GCOOS-RA, and SECOORA are working well and should be continued.
    2. Exchange names of key education and outreach (E/O) persons between CaRA, FLCOOS, GOMA, SECOORA, and GCOOS. Then have regular exchanges of E/O information and/or products. There also was discussion of the possibility of forming a national COOS E/O communication forum through NFRA.
    3. RA leaders should identify modelers working on specific models within their RAs. Then modelers working on the same or similar model should be encouraged to exchange ideas.
    4. There have been three IOOS projects on storm surge inundation in SECOORA and a tsunami inundation model in CaRA. The key players should be encouraged to caucus to decide on how to make results more visible (and so potentially usable).
    5. GCOOS-RA will approach GOMA to determine possible interest in a workshop for ecosystem modelers. CaRA and SECOORA would be involved in any such workshop.
    6. Each RA should invite representatives from the other RAs and from GOMA to major annual or semi-annual meetings. This would be in lieu of regular inter-RA meetings.
  2. Procedures for developing joint pilot projects and proposals for funding.
    1. Nowlin reviewed the GCOOS approach to developing pilot projects and support and the status of that effort. There was agreement that one approach to be followed will be to identify pilot projects of common interest to the three RAs (perhaps including GOMA) and pursue funding mechanisms. By 1 July 2008 each RA will provide brief descriptions of a series (say six to twelve) pilot projects of interest. Potential pilots mentioned include:
      • Extension of aggregation and distribution of beach quality data to southeast. University of South Carolina has a potentially useful modeling effort. It was suggested that Paul Sandifer and/or Jay Grimes might be able to quantify the value of such a project to make the economic case for such a study.
      • A pilot project to suggest approaches on how to (1) serve and archive model output and/or (2) deal with legacy data such as historical data or measurements and products not collected in real-time for the Gulf of Mexico; maps of marine mammals and endangered turtles in the Gulf based on legacy information from NMFS and MMS and real-time observations from the oil and gas industry.
      • Pilot to consider and prepare rip current predictions–perhaps for display on weather.com.
      • Possible participation of SECOORA and CaRA in the pilot Regional Operations Center being pursued by GCOOS-RA.
      • Develop possible pilot projects for Education and Outreach.
    2. We need to identify foundations with potential interest in ocean observing or its subelements such as effects of climate change, public education and outreach, or environmental assessment. It was mentioned that SURA may have recently completed an identification of interests of foundations, and it was suggested that we might approach and work with SURA.
    3. A suggestion was made that RAs offer special memberships to a broad range of stakeholders for a very limited (say ten to twenty-five dollars per annum) membership fee. In return when that member accesses the RA website s/he will be directed immediately to the information s/he has specified to be of interest. A non-profit status would be needed. The benefits of this approach might include:
      • Increase of individual memberships;
      • Assistance with identification of stakeholder priorities;
      • Provide stakeholders information they desire; and
      • Broaden the base of support for the RA.
  3. DMAC Standards and delivery of products
    1. There was considerable status review and discussion of common vocabularies and building a catalog. Upcoming workshops to these ends were discussed and support was solicited from the NOAA IOOS Program Office. A workshop to create a common dictionary that will serve interoperability will likely be held in August-September 2008.
    2. There were no decisions made regarding new products or product delivery except for suggested pilots. One suggestion was that each RA should maintain an inventory of its assets as an ongoing product.
    3. A data hub is a data aggregation point. SECOORA has three hubs: University of South Carolina, University of North Carolina, and USF. The USF hub is to be the exchange point with GCOOS-RA and CaRA. SECOORA has its DMAC plan on web site and will share information regarding what is needed for a hub. It was suggested that all RAs have back up data hubs.
  4. Interactions with federal agencies.
    After some discussion, the consensus seemed to be that the direct RA interactions with local representatives of federal agencies is working, although sometimes it is time consuming. It was agreed that the RA need greater visibility with the agencies.
  5. Education and Outreach activities.
    Most of our information is delivered via web sites. It was suggested that we might tailor pages on our web sites to specific user groups, e.g., a page with links to information believed useful to recreational boaters. Further, rather than just providing a link to a web site where a useful product (say surface waves) might be found, the link should be directly to the product believed to be useful. Other ideas discussed were to consider (1) whether inter-regional COOS programs should have similar E/O web designs with comparable information; (2) whether there is value in the development of common outreach materials on selected subjects; and (3) how much interpretive information and product customization is needed or appropriate.

We did not discuss agenda items 6 and 7.


Appendix 1:

Inter-RA (CaRA, GCOOS-RA, SECOORA) Meeting
24 April 2008
Houston, TX

Representatives from the three RAs have agreed on the priority in which potential agenda items will be discussed. We will begin with agenda item 1 and work through as many as feasible in the allotted time: 0800 to 1500 hr.

1.0 Methods of improving regular communication between our RAs
  1.1 Exchange contact information for people in our regions working on specific issues, i.e., outreach, coastal weather forecasting, improving resiliency to inundation, surface current nowcasting and forecasting, etc. [The willingness of individuals to be listed would need to be obtained in advance of exchanging this information]
  1.2 Agreement on times and venues for future inter-regional meetings.
2.0 Ideas for marketing–new sources of funding; Procedures for developing joint pilot projects and proposals
  2.1 Discuss procedures used to select proposals in response to calls for proposals. Then agree on procedures for exchanging information early in the cycle to determine whether joint proposals would be desirable.
  2.2 Share information on potential/developing pilot projects.
  2.3 Common brochure, bookmarkers, posters, other hand-outs (possibly some for sale?)
  2.4 Experimental sub-system with interconnections between Caribbean, GOM, and SE Atlantic for NSF? Ecosystem?
  2.5 Foundations/Trusts? (e.g., E/O aspects)
3.0 DMAC Standards and Delivery of Products.
  3.1 Construction of a machine accessible catalog of available near real-time data. Participants will explore the way forward toward building a catalog which will accept a machine request (constrained by x, y, z, & t, and parameter) and will return a list of data access points (URLs and methods). This goal contains several required elements.
    3.1.1 Data providers must post an accurate current list of available data. This task has been initiated within the scope of the IOOS Regional Observation Registry Project. The Inter-RA participants should discuss strategies to ensure that providers meet the "accurate & current" requirements of a useful catalog.
    3.1.2 Mapping data provider parameter names to a common dictionary. The practical solution to the problem of locating similar parameters that are named differently by different data providers is to create a translation service. At some point, humans will have to compare terms and establish how terms are related – the rest can be automated. There are computer-based tools to aid this process and to record the outcome in machine usable form. The Inter-RA participants will discuss the selection of a common vocabulary and the possible avenues for getting the human-provided input to the mapping process.
    3.1.3 Building the catalog. The catalog itself needs to be built. Catalogs are a needed in so many disciplines. So it’s not surprising that standards-based catalogs are being discussed in many groups including the Open Geospatial Consortium. Will it be standards-based? If so which one? Even community agreements can be defacto standards. Given our resources who will actually build it? Should this activity be promoted to the NOAA level? The Inter-RA participants should discuss the way forward for building this catalog.
  3.2 Products
The Inter-RA group should discuss product formats–clearly drawing from the SECOORA experience as GCOOS and CaRa are not producing a lot of products at the present time.
    3.2.1 What do users want? GIS-compatible, web pages, pictures formatted for smart-phones?
    3.2.2 Do users want to construct their own suites of overlays or are canned products best?
    3.2.3 Are users interested in Dash-board presentations?
    3.2.4 Do users want subscription services (RSS or other), data/product push or data/product pull?
  3.3 Data Hubs
Discuss establishing
hubs and coordinating their activities USF will be one of SECOORA’s hubs and be charged with coordinating with GCOOS.
4.0 Interactions with federal agencies
These is the need for collective interaction with federal agencies; their regional boundaries do not align with our boundaries.
5.0 Education and Outreach Activities
  5.1 Design and maintain similar Education and Outreach web designs or at least include comparable information.
  5.2 Develop common outreach materials on selected subjects
  5.3 Common newsletter with outreach information?
  5.4 Creative E/O funding sources with joint projects
  5.5 Discuss how to integrate COSEEs into our E&O efforts
  5.6 Promote poster ideas as done in SEACOOS
6.0 Need for international coordination
7.0 Sharing technology
  7.1 HAB sensors
  7.2 HF radar
  7.3 Wave measurements