Spill prompts NOAA to define its data management architecture

NOAA CIO says IT systems need to evolve to address next crisis

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is defining the architecture needed to effectively manage, store and disseminate data to the public and other agencies after the Deepwater Horizon-BP oil spill made starkly clear there is a need to do so, Joseph Kilmavicz, NOAA’s chief information officer, said at a recent Industry Advisory Council membership meeting.

“My job is to bring data together in a usable format,” said Kilmavicz, who is also director of High Performance Computing and Communications at NOAA. “There is going to be an evolution [as we] plan how to best posture our IT systems and data to prepare for the next crisis."

Kilmavicz spoke to IAC members on July 15 in Vienna, Va., about the GeoPlatform Web site, which allows the public to track Deepwater Horizon-BP oil spill recovery data online via a near-real-time interactive map. BP announced July 15 that the company had finally stopped the leak with a new cap, but it was too soon to know if that would lead to a permanent solution.

Related coverage:

NOAA interactive map tracks Gulf oil spill

GeoPlatform, launched June 15, includes regularly updated geospatial data from several federal and state agencies on the oil spill trajectory, closed fishery areas, impact on wildlife and Gulf resources, daily position of research ships, and affected shorelines.

GeoPlatform.gov was launched in two weeks with the help of geo-spatial executives across the government, the Environmental Protection Agency and the University of New Hampshire. The site is hosted on NOAA’s Web server farm, Kilmavicz said.

The volume of data collected for the site is immense, coming from many types of sensors and sources in the Gulf of Mexico in different formats, he said.

GeoPlatform receives data from NOAA, the U.S. Coast Guard, EPA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Homeland Security Department, NASA and several states.

“All data can be geospatially referenced,” Kilmavicz said. For example, there’s no reason why data in Data.gov can’t be put it in a geospatial background, he said. Data.gov gives the public access to machine-readable datasets generated by the executive branch of the federal government.

Data management is critical, though. “Bringing data together doesn’t solve all problems,” Kilmavicz said. More important is “how do you use that information?” There is still a lot of work to be done in that area, he said.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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Reader comments

Fri, Jul 16, 2010

I am on the FCDG and the GEOPLATFORM put up by NOAA in now way reflects the years of hardwork our group has put in to create a real GEOPLATFORM.GOV. Mr. Klimavicz has confused and misdirected the efforts of 100 of people. The GEOPLATFORM he is talking about is nothing more that an old NOAA application called ERMA. It is not built on open standards, nor will it do anything we want it too. You should publish a retraction.

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