Unidata and Outreach to University Sites and Operational Centers



Periodically, the idea of governance committee visits to operational centers, research laboratories, 
and university sites has been discussed, but due to various reasons, including budget constraints, the
idea has not come to fruition.  However, there have been Policy Committee meetings held at
University of
, University of Rhode Island, University of Wisconsin and University of Hawaii, but the Users Committee
has always met in
Boulder at the Unidata Project Center (UPC).   The remote meetings have always been
considered successful, because the participants have the opportunity to tour the site, see how Unidata
technologies are being used at the site, and meet some of the community members at the site.  The Policy
Committee meets at NSF at least once a year. Over the years, the meetings at NSF or
Washington DC have
benefited the committee deliberation greatly as participants from
NWS, NOAA, NASA and other agencies
have contributed to the discussion.
Steven Businger, Chair, Unidata Policy Committee, has resurrected this issue again, and indicated that off 
site committee meetings add a new dimension to the discussion and can be highly stimulating.  This leads to
creating new interactions and exploring new opportunities.


This idea has been discussed with Mohan and Linda.  Some of the information in this paper has been taken 
directly from email exchanges between, Businger, Miller, and Ramamurthy.
Unidata and Operational Center Exchanges
The suggestion recommends taking another look at how Unidata interacts with operational centers to see 
if there may be opportunities for some additional exchange of ideas.  The motivation is that operational
centers deal with many of the same challenges that Unidata does, namely data formats, transmission,
graphics and visualization, etc. And they expend a lot of capital to make their products timely and well
received.  Including university committee members in the mix will help to broaden the opportunity for
exchange.  Any operational center is fair game to be considered and the list below is not complete.
USA Centers
NRL/FNMOC, AFWA, NSSL, NHC/HRD (not during hurricane season) ESRL, NWS, NCEP,  (we have an 
invitation to conduct a meeting at NCEP as soon as they have moved into their new quarters, currently
scheduled for Feb 2011).  One low-cost site visit is to hold a meeting at NOAA/ESRL/Boulder to discuss
opportunities for enhanced collaboration.  There is a lot of collaboration already underway, but additional
opportunities probably exist in the future.  ESRL would be easy to begin this process, because of their
location in

International Centers
Several types of exchanges were discussed.  These broadly included:
1.  Arrange to have the Policy Committee or Users Committee meeting located at a US center, in the same 
fashion that visits to member universities have be conducted in the past.  Then do this on a recurring basis,
making the rounds.
The Users Committee has never met outside of the UPC. The main reason for that is the fact that, 
unlike Policy Committee meetings, almost all of the Unidata staff participate in Users Committee meetings.
It would be hugely expensive to fly all of the staff to Users Committee meetings in places other than
Diminished staff productivity is another important consideration.
Proposal concerning Users Committee exchanges:  Consider combining a Users committee meeting with 
a Unidata regional workshop; could be focused on specific projects taking place at the
UPC. The overall
status reports and remaining staff members could participate via webcast or some other technology.  This
type of meeting would provide insight for the committee into what other sites are doing, and how they are
using Unidata technologies and tools.  It could follow the regional workshop meeting, and perhaps only
overlap by a half day.
2.  Arrange a workshop in Boulder to which active members of the university community are invited, along 
with key people from a number of centers, perhaps targeting the creative types that do the work at the centers. 
International participants should be included.
3.  Arrange a small group to visit a European or Asian center (perhaps linked with the EGU meeting to 
reduce travel cost).  Key creative types from Unidata and a couple of university leaders (who could
pitch in for their travel if possible) could make up the group.
Funds might be raised through a small add-on proposal to the NSF for a workshop or other travel.  A 
workshop concept might be easier to justify.


Steven Businger, University of Hawaii  

Chair, Unidata Policy Committee

15 October 2009


Linda Miller, Unidata

Mohan Ramamurthy, Unidata