The goal of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is to put all of its data — data about weather, climate, ocean coasts, fisheries, and ecosystems – into the hands of the people who need it most. The trick is translating the hard data and making it useful to people who aren’t necessarily subject matter experts, said Edward Kearns, the NOAA’s first ever data officer, speaking at the recent Open Source Leadership Summit (OSLS).
NOAA’s mission is similar to NASA’s in that it is science based, but “our mission is operations; to get the quality information to the American people that they need to run their businesses, to protect their lives and property, to manage their water resources, to manage their ocean resources,” said Kearns, during his talk titled “Realizing the Full Potential of NOAA’s Open Data.
Now the NOAA is looking to find a way to make the data available to an even wider group of people and make it more easily understood. Those are their two biggest challenges: how to disseminate data and how to help people understand it, Kearns said.
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