NOAA Issues AI and Cloud Strategies

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released draft versions of its strategies on cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) today, setting the stage for the agency’s adoption of the emerging technologies.

The draft strategies, released alongside NOAA’s Unmanned Systems and ‘Omics strategies, aim to place the technologies in the context of NOAA’s missions to improve forecast accuracy and conduct marine science. Comments on both drafts are open until December 16.

“These detailed strategies will enable us to achieve our priorities of reclaiming and maintaining global leadership in numerical weather prediction and sustainably expanding the American Blue Economy,” said Neil Jacobs, acting administrator of NOAA.

The Cloud Strategy sets the goal of a multi-vendor, hybrid environment. With a large amount of environmental data under NOAA’s care and a stovepiped environment, the strategy aims to use the move to cloud as an “inflection point” to “modernize data storage and dissemination instead of just shifting existing systems to the cloud.” The strategy’s goals include rapid adoption of cloud, smart migrations with sound business cases, secure access, effective governance, and workforce preparedness for cloud.

“The strategy assumes change, and requires a new mindset for modernizing NOAA’s IT environment,” the agency notes in the draft.

The AI Strategy sets the goal for both organizational and programmatic use of the technology. The agency plans to establish a NOAA Center for AI to coordinate activities, prioritize AI in budget formulation, and promote a focus on AI among leadership. NOAA plans to provide increased training for staff, create programs to hire graduates with the needed skills, and use the agency’s rotational assignment program to send employees to offices with high AI knowledge levels. The strategy also pushes a strong approach on AI research and operationalizing that research, with collaborative approaches among industry and other agencies.

“As data exploitation capabilities continue to increase exponentially with improved satellite systems and architecture, unmanned systems and commercial data sources, AI methods will provide transformative advancements in the quality and timeliness of NOAA science, products, and services,” the strategy states.

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