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NOAA looks to business for big-data help

Look for an RFI in January asking whether there's a business case for companies to provide analysis using NOAA data.

Dec. 17, 2013 - 04:30PM   |  
By NICOLE BLAKE JOHNSON   |   Comments
  • Filed Under

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration generates or collects more than 19 terabytes of data every day, and that’s a conservative estimate.

But only a fraction of that data is made available through NOAA’s nearly 700 websites, each of which are supported by multiple databases, said NOAA Chief Information Officer Joe Klimavicz.

“If I was out there in the agriculture or insurance or financial sectors, I wouldn’t say give me 19 terabytes of raw data,” said Klimavicz, who spoke Tuesday at a cloud computing summit in Washington. “I would want answers, and I think that there is a market for companies that can provide answers.”

Klimavicz plans to release a request for information to industry in January to better understand whether there is a business case for companies to provide analysis and citizen services using NOAA’s data. He equated this model to the products and services that have been developed using Global Positioning System data.

Klimavicz envisions a public-private partnership between NOAA and industry, where companies can use government data to predict weather forecasts over several months. Such information could help determine whether a given area would be unusually hot or dry during the summer, for example, guiding decisions about crops.

Companies today are repackaging NOAA products and providing valuable data to customers, Klimavicz said, and in many ways that is the sector that needs to take the lead.

“I don’t think the government ... necessarily has the best ability to understand or anticipate what the public needs,” Klimavicz said. “I think really we need to work with industry a lot in terms of figuring how to take federal government information and how to use it in innovative ways.”

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