Moving Forward, Again, on a National Network of Networks

by James Stalker, President & CEO, RESPR, Inc.
Since my last blog in The Front Page a little over a year ago about the effort to form a National Network of Networks, many changes have taken place.
First, the AMS NNoN ad hoc Committee completed its final report in 2013, which is available on the AMS website at A short summary article will appear in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society this fall.
While these are welcome developments, the network of networks initiative almost came to a screeching halt except for the work of the Weather and Climate Enterprise Commissioner, Matt Parker, who didn’t want it to go away. Matt asked me to chair the new Nationwide Network of Networks (NNoN) effort going forward. At that time, as the NNoN R&D/Testbeds Working Group chair for the previous three years, I was prepared for the seemingly inevitable end of the NNoN effort, but refused to accept it.
So, here we are now with renewed enthusiasm for the new NNoN initiative taking shape within a full fledged AMS NNoN Committee, under the AMS Board on Strategic Topics (BEST). Previous participants, particularly John Lasley, and the past NNoN ad hoc Committee chair, George Frederick, pooled together a committee of more than 30 people to resume the effort.
For those of you who are not familiar with the NNoN initiative, it all got started when the National Research Council (NRC) report titled Observing the Weather and Climate From the Ground Up: A Nationwide Network of Networks came out in 2009. The AMS NNoN ad hoc Committee further reviewed the recommendations of the NRC report and produced the aforementioned report of its own.
The ad hoc committee produced six specific recommendations, but the first and most important one is to organize a stakeholders summit to gain weather and climate community-wide support for the NNoN effort. The renewed NNoN initiative is, in fact, considering this recommendation in stride. It will hold a couple of mini-summit meetings in 2013 and 2014, before the culminating stakeholders summit in 2015.
In this regard, a meeting is scheduled to take place in Boulder, Colorado, on Monday, August 12, the day before the AMS Summer Community Meeting begins. Members of the weather and climate enterprise community are urged to attend this mini-summit to learn about the new NNoN direction and provide critical input.
One of the key tweaks in the approach of the new NNoN is the bottom-up approach, as opposed to the top-down approach of the earlier efforts. In other words, new network members joining the NNoN are consulted for their input before recommendations are suggested specifically for that network member. Another key tweak is that the new NNoN Committee is going to actually help network members implement the network-specific recommendations. Implementation services will require funding, and the new NNoN is exploring many possible ways to secure such funding.
The new NNoN effort is supported by three working groups: 1) an Implementation Working Group, 2) an Outreach Working Group, and 3) an Advisory Working Group. These working groups comprise multiple teams to provide the benefits network members are looking for. The upcoming BAMS article will detail the new NNoN initiative, including the working groups and the teams that comprise them.
Also, for further information and for expressing your interest to join the effort as a committee member, get in touch with me at [email protected] or any of the three working group chairs (Greg Partt at [email protected]; John Lasley at [email protected]; Don Berchoff at [email protected]).

A National Network of Networks: The Discussion Continues

by James Stalker, CEO, RESPR, Inc., and Chair, R&D/Testbeds Working Group for the AMS Ad Hoc Committee on a Nationwide Network of Networks
The National Research Council (NRC) report, titled “Observing the Weather and Climate From the Ground Up: A Nationwide Network of Networks (2009),” provided the vision and inspiration for building a team of volunteers from across all three sectors (government, academia, and private) that investigated the
suggestions recommended in the report. This team, comprising six (6) working groups (Organization and Business Models, Architecture, Measurements and Infrastructure, Metadata Policy, R&D and Testbeds, and Human Dimension), spent more than two years considering how to refine the recommendations and tackle the challenges identified in the original NRC report. They also identified other challenges in shaping this type of Nationwide Network of Networks (NNoN), which will be of critical importance to our country’s weather-ready future.
This volunteer team has published additional recommendations compiled into a draft report available at the American Meteorological Society website. Several drafts of this team’s report had been made available to the larger weather and climate enterprise community for comments over many months. The most recent and final version of the report reflects the community input. The readers of this blog are encouraged to read this final report and provide their comments to the Committee Chair and/or any of the Working Group Chairs of the Ad Hoc Committee on Network of Networks.
These volunteer efforts, to date, have certainly tried to solidify the interest of the various stakeholders in a network of this magnitude and of national importance but a lot more work remains to be undertaken. Unfortunately, many challenges remain unresolved. For example, wide-spread support hasn’t been secured for the idea of a central authority for an organizing body of the NNoN. Despite the best efforts by the volunteer team, an appealing organization and business model for such a central body has not been settled on going forward. Other challenges include establishing how to:

  1. make this organizing body an autonomous body that is not unduly influenced by any one sector,
  2. make this body a financially sustainable entity in the long run,
  3. reach all the major stakeholders and get them to support this idea and contribute to its success.

With respect to the third challenge listed above, many of the sought-after stakeholders may not be actively engaged in the weather and climate enterprise community activities and so finding effective ways to reach them becomes an even bigger challenge.
On a positive note, however, the NNoN efforts are going to be discussed again and support will be sought at the AMS Washington Forum in April 2012 and also at the Summer Community Meeting in August 2012 in Norman, Oklahoma. These two venues should prove quite useful for any interested Weather and Climate Enterprise participant and other stakeholders in the overarching effort to build a national asset that the current and many future generations will help nurture and benefit from.