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Message Delivery for Diverse Populations in The Information Age . Robert J. Ricks, Jr. WFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge, LA. Are you familiar with AHR?. What we do know…. System originally designed to deliver forecasts and warnings to marine communities.

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Message Delivery for Diverse Populations in The Information Age

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message delivery for diverse populations in the information age

Message Delivery for Diverse Populations in The Information Age

Robert J. Ricks, Jr.

WFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge, LA

what we do know
What we do know…
  • System originally designed to deliver forecasts and warnings to marine communities.
  • Improved to provide land based warnings and advisories, but limited in coverage.
  • Recently expanded to about 97% U.S. coverage.
  • Still analog broadcast, despite technological evolutions.
national award winning system
National Award Winning System
  • NOAA 03-071FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEContact: Susan Weaver6/17/03
  • NOAA News Releases 2003NOAA Home PageNOAA Public Affairs
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today presented the 2003 NOAA Weather and All Hazards Radio Mark Trail Awards to individuals and groups that made contributions to expand and improve the life-saving NOAA Weather Radio system coverage, awareness and radio receiver ownership across the nation. The awards, were given today at a luncheon held on Capitol Hill. NOAA is part of the Department of Commerce.
  • “NOAA Weather Radio is a lifesaver when severe weather and other hazards threaten,” said Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr. USN (ret.), NOAA’s administrator. “When a tornado, or other disaster, threatens in the middle of the night, only NOAA Weather Radio with its alarm feature can alert you. Every house needs a NOAA Weather Radio, and together with this year’s Mark Trail Award winners we are making that possible one person at a time.”
  • NOAA Weather Radio continuously broadcasts weather forecasts and warnings, as well as other hazard warnings. It is credited with saving lives during severe weather conditions. The award is named after syndicated comic strip character, Mark Trail, the official spokesman for NOAA Weather Radio.
  • Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Jack Kelly, director of the National Weather Service said, “Our Mark Trail Award winners are making a difference in communities across the nation. Thanks to their efforts NOAA Weather Radio transmitters are popping up at a breathtaking pace, with over 800 transmitters nationwide we can now provide broadcasts to 95 percent of the American population.”
  • Continued….
who are our customers technologically speaking
Who are our customers, technologically speaking…

Source: NWS Seattle, WA user survey

how is the info used
How is the info used?

Source: NWS Seattle, WA user survey

is service delivery synonymous with mission delivery
Is Service Delivery synonymous with Mission Delivery?
  • Service Delivery
    • Routine forecasts
      • Max T, Min T, Wind, Rain chances, etc.
      • River forecasts, flood forecasts
    • Decision Support
      • Fire Weather
      • HazMat
      • Special Event support
  • Mission Delivery
    • Saving of life
    • Minimizing property loss
    • Promoting commerce
societal impacts
Societal Impacts
  • Technologies easily favor individuals with better economic means.
    • PDAs
    • Internet
    • Cable or Digital TV
  • Who is the nth person?
  • Does our message get to the nth person?
  • Does the nth person care?
  • Is an effort to get weather info to the nth person viable?
socio economic lay of the land
Socio-economic lay of the land
  • Self reliant individuals are typically more apt to find a solution.
    • Example: Subscribe to a digital dish service in highly rural areas.
    • May not be suitable for networking
  • Dependency based individuals typically look to others for assistance.
    • Most often in urban settings
    • Depend on ‘Centers of Influence’ as source of information.
    • Can become an accessible and effective network.
some statistics
Some statistics
  • U.S. Population = 307,212,123 in 2009
    • Per U.S. Census Bureau (American Community Survey)
    • Constitutes 5% of world population
    • 90.1% of North American population
  • Internet Access in homes = 227,719,000
    • As of Aug 2009 (Nielson Online)
    • 74.1% penetration
    • 145.8% growth since 2000
    • 90.3% of global access
  • Rural area broadband expands at faster rate than urban areas
a local real time example
A local real-time example
  • New Orleans, LA
    • Population (July 2008): 311,853
    • Change since 2000: -35.7%
    • Median Household income (2008): $37,751
    • (2000): $27,133
    • Per capita income (2008): $21,309
    • Racial make-up
      • Black (67.3%)
      • White non-Hispanic (26.6%)
      • Hispanic (3.1%)
      • Vietnamese (1.5%)
      • Other race (0.9%)
      • American Indian (0.5%)
    • Cost of Living Index: 93.7
    • Poverty – 22.6% (Blacks 26.7%, Whites 13.5%)
    • Potential Underserved population with regards to weather mission delivery: ~28.6% in the New Orleans Area.
example continued
Example continued…
  • Income below Poverty level (2007)
    • New Orleans: 20.6%
    • Louisiana: 18.6%
  • Income below 50% of Poverty level (2007)
    • New Orleans: 10.1%
    • Whole State: 7.8%
  • New Orleans population telecommunication statistics
    • DMA rank 51 – up from 53 post-Katrina
    • Percentage of population with internet connectivity is only 40.1 percent
      • Remember, national average is 74.1%
    • Percentage of population with Cable TV: 73%
      • National average: 98.9%
  • Hispanic, Asian, African-American TV Households Grow Faster than US Average [+4.4%] (Nielson Online)
    • New Orleans is substantially higher than the national average in this category.
so what is missing
So what is missing?
  • Targeting about 26 percent of population possibly underserved.
    • Could be more or less
  • NOAA weather radio still affordable and readily available.
  • Marketing has increased recently BUT…
  • Still a limited means of message conveyance for a percentage of population
    • Foreign language barriers
    • Special needs individuals
    • Nth level person still unable to afford an ‘investment’ in NOAA Weather Radio
a strategy
A Strategy
  • Use current available technology (CRS)
  • Work with AHR manufacturers to develop a ‘Smart Radio’ digital device.
  • Push a digital bit/byte burst to digital devices
commpower crs already a digital platform
CommPower CRS already a digital platform
  • Current feed is converted to analog to transmit over legacy transmitters.
  • Limited by structured play cycles.
  • Not tailored fully to listeners wants and needs. (SAME function helps some).
  • Not as present or futuristic as it could/should be.
what is there to gain
What is there to gain?
  • A digital receiver device allows for
    • Selective audio
    • Digital readout
    • Radar/graphical displays
    • Specialized alerts
    • Interagency interconnectivity
      • FEMA
      • Homeland Security
      • Local Law Enforcement
      • NWS
a schematic
A Schematic…

Products are generated by forecasters and formatting software in AWIPS at NWS Forecast offices

The NOAA Weather Radio receives the product over government radio frequencies as transmitted from the local NWS office.

The product is processed into a script within AWIPS for voice synthesizing, then pushed to the Console Replacement System (CRS)

Products are then broadcast on various transmitters via the Console Replacement System (CRS).

Design the receiver to receive the digitized packet, with processing of final product performed at the receiver, inclusive of voice synthesizing in user selected languages.

Products continue to be generated in AWIPS, with additional formatting for digitized product capabilities.

The digitized product is sent out as a packet burst, NOT just a continuous broadcast.

an attempt at prototyping
An attempt at prototyping…

Dominica Project



Submitted a proposal bid to the U.N. Volunteer Nations grant program.

  • Requested $100,000 to establish an entirely digitized broadcast functions with multilingual capabilities on the Island nation of Dominica.
    • English
    • Creole
    • French
    • Dutch
  • Co-opt with Amateur radio and local commercial radio station for siting and operation.
  • Installation by a NWS team
  • Program management and assessment for 1 year to test feasibility and reliability for application within the U.S.
  • Project was rejected by U.N. for funding, stating it was too aggressive. If we requested funding for educational brochures, coloring books, crayons and multilingual flyers, we would have gotten funding.
service delivery
Service Delivery
  • Imagine a wide screen monitor mounted within the food court of the New Orleans River Walk overlooking the Mississippi River.
  • Imagine a digital receiver attached to the HD input of the monitor.
  • Imagine an interactive map of the Mississippi River showing actual crest and flood locations.
  • Imagine all of this with a single digital burst!

New Orleans Carrollton

10:10 am CDT Wed, April 14, 2010

Flood Stage: 22.0 ft

Today’s stage: 12.8 ft

7 am CDT Thu: 12.7 ft

7 am CDT Fri: 12.5 ft

7 am CDT Sat: 12.3 ft

7 am CDT Sun: 12.0 ft

7 am CDT Mon: 11.8 ft

high impact delivery
High impact delivery

….Hurricane Gustav moving north 15 MPH…

hydrologic services
Hydrologic services
  • Electronic River Gage readout
  • Mounted on bridge for clear viewing by traffic
  • Color changes for threat level

High Water Mark 33.4 ft


Flood Stage

Bank full

23.5 ft

Current Stage

8.3 ft

indirect but meaningful impacts
Indirect but meaningful impacts…
  • Cultural preservation
    • Promote and enhance cultural heritage through use of language access
      • Imagine an all Cajun broadcast in the Acadiana Parishes of Louisiana
      • High tourism areas can have multilingual kiosks with a single signal push.
        • Not just for weather broadcasts, but other vital information.
  • International Outreach
    • Third world and developed nations support
    • Multinational events
      • (Olympics, Pan-Am Games, World Cup, World’s Fair, etc.)

Reminder: All from a single bit/byte data burst!!!

other indirect impacts
Other indirect impacts…
  • Ability to network through Centers of Influence in neighborhoods and urban areas.
  • Gain confidence and rapport through a broader spectrum of the socio-economic scale.
  • Become a front-runner at the federal level in public access telecommunications and interoperability.
  • Become a model for international prototype networks.
in summary
In Summary…
  • Promote diversity management of mission and service delivery by leveraging existing broadcast technologies into a broader digital role.
  • By doing so, expanding capabilities for multilingual and special need extension.
  • Thereby, providing access to nth person.
this is accomplished through
This is accomplished through…
  • Partnering with our NOAA Weather/All Hazards Radio manufacturers
    • A summit to draft and implement a strategy for
    • Development of Smart Radio technology that includes
      • Atomic Clock for product auto-purge;
      • USB port uplink to a PC for programming and phonetic dictionary downloads;
      • Digital and analog reception
      • Cost effective (similar or close to current AHR prices)
  • Partner with Universities/U.N. Cooperative nations to develop phonetic dictionaries.
  • NWS National Team
    • I & I
    • Web hosting for dictionary and software uploads
    • Interagency interactions
references and supporting info
References and Supporting Info
  • NWS White Paper: “Client End Multilingual All Hazards Radio : Evolutionizing NOAA Weather Radio for Revolutionary Results”
  • NWS Weather Radio Improvement Plan (WRIP) with addendum: High Level Design dated February 11, 2008.
  • CommPower CBS User’s Guide