Unidata Users Committee Meeting Summary
30-31 March 1998


Mohan Ramamurthy, Chair
 Rich Clark
Dave Dempsey
Jennie Moody
Michael Morgan
Tony Rockwood
Doug Yarger

Ex-Officio Members:

Jim Moore, Policy Committee
Tom Whittaker, ATAC


Mary Marlino, PAGE
Harriet Barker, UCAR

UPC Staff:

Sally Bates
Steve Chiswell
Ben Domenico
Dave Fulker
Linda Miller
Don Murray
Russ Rew
Tom Yoksas

Administrative Matters:

The proposed date for the next meeting is 1-2 October 1998.  UserComm members should contact the UPC immediately if they cannot attend this meeting.

A review of the action items:

Newsletter - in progress
cover - figures were completed by Steve Chiswell and BAMS article was submitted
assess the workshop materials, including the students' reaction and usefulness - Marlino discussion below.

Director's Report - Dave Fulker

An extensive overview of the Unidata five-year proposal peer review that took place during the previous week in Boulder was provided.  There were 20 questions posed by the review panel for Unidata's response.  Fulker reviewed the responses to those questions, which included items like governance structure, changes since the submission of the proposal, budget increase, less need for distinct visualization package and general updates of data access, NOAAPort, DODS, VisAD collaboration and Java plans.

Fulker provided a general overview, based on his understanding, of the reviewers' recommendations. The formal recommendations will be provided to Fulker by the Review Panel at a later date.

Planning for SuomiNet has been placed on hold for about one year.  This will provide time to establish a stronger foundation for the SuomiNet project by collecting additional information from potential participants, refining multidisciplinary research/education and scientific rationale, defining mutually beneficial relationships and working toward establishing Internet-based real-time data flows from existing GPS systems/networks to expand the prototype product set.

PAGE - Mary Marlino

A brief summary of PAGE activities was given.  Six Focus Groups have been conducted by PAGE.  The preliminary analysis of the Focus Groups indicates four areas of needs.  They are:
  1. Multimedia database
  2. Development of topic areas for disciplines (Rockwood Matrix)
  3. Training in pedagogy and assessment
  4. Clearinghouse function (presence on Web)
Funding issues are consuming much of the time at PAGE.   Proposals have been developed for numerous activities from several sources.  There has been a suggestion that PAGE consider having a conference, similar to the one held years ago in Madison, WIsconsin for Unidata, to solicit support for PAGE activities, leading to a proposal for base funding.  A proposal for a workshop to be held in the fall of 1998 to discuss the formal of a PAGE Center is being discussed.
Summer 1997 Workshop Discussion:
Three aspects that should be considered when reviewing last year's summer workshop include: Discussion of the workshop assessment criteria included possible steps to be taken, e.g., collecting student's input, requesting an article from two or three sites that describes any affect or change in their role at their institution.  Another approach could be direct telephone calls to about 10 diverse participants to inquire if the summer workshop had an impact individually or institutionally.  A query should also be made pertaining to a follow on workshop in the future.

Action 1:  Sally Bates will send a note soliciting information from the workshop participants on applicability of the workshop materials and recommendations for a follow on workshop.

Outstanding Participant Award - Sally Bates

The award subcommittee recommends that the award be: The funding for this award is still being sought through various channels.

MetApps Task Force - Ben Domenico

This working group will be formed, based on the Charlie Murphy  recommendation .  Discussion about the mission, composition and timing of the working group led to a  proposed statement  by Ben Domenico.  Domenico will work with Charlie Murphy, who was asked to chair the task force, to carefully define the activities of the task force.  It is envisaged that the group will meet on an "as needed" basis, after the initial meeting, and much work will be performed through email exchange.  Ben will be the UPC point of contact.  The working  group will report to the UserComm.  The UserComm will help set guidelines and the charter for the task force.

Action 2:  A WXP user should be represented on the MetApps Task Force.

Java Transition - Dave Fulker

Fulker led a discussion on the current work that is underway and future tasks related to Java development.  This covers data management access underpinnings and user interface to applications.  He provided an overview of the Gempak-Java development and the VisAD collaboration between the UPC and Bill Hibbard at the University of Wisconsin.  A demonstration was given by the technical staff on progress of NTrans-Java, McIDAS-Java and VisAD.

NOAAPort - Dave Fulker

A brief  overview  was provided to facilitate the NOAAPort discussion.  Channel 1 consists of the NCEP/NWS telecommunications gateway data (e.g. Family of Services).  Initially, this will be the most important channel for the universities.  Satellite data will continue to be received through the Unidata-Wisconsin broadcast.  Channel 4 of NOAAPort just began broadcasting some experimental data and Wallops Island data.  It was agreed that the addition of Channel 4 would be added at a later time.  Unidata will work with COMET to coordinate the downlink to benefit the community.

Action 3:  Users Committee recommends that the UPC budget for NOAAPort Channel 1 for 3 sites dispersed over the U.S.

The future of DIFAX is uncertain due to budgetary cutbacks at the NWS.  To counteract this threat, the committee proposed:

Action 4:  Form a task force (Rockwood) working with the UPC and the UserComm (Jim Moore and Michael Morgan have interest) to create emulated Difax data stream from FOS and NCEP data streams.  The solution must include printing capabilities.

Model Data Access & Distribution - Steve Chiswell

Testing has been underway using the IDD/LDM for access and distribution. NCEP and NWS/OSO will be installing the LDM within the next month or so making the data available using the IDD.  NASA/Goddard, acting as a relay site, will be forward the data on to universities who have subscribed for the data.  This is high resolution experimental data that is currently being made available at the NIC and OSO servers, and may not be of interest to all universities.

NEXRAD Level II - Tim Crum

Tim Crum, Operational Support Facility (OSF), Norman, Oklahoma provided an update on the NEXRAD
program.  There will be a total of 158 systems deployed.  There are less than 10 RIDDS available for deployment.  RIDDS is the system currently used for  direct connection to a local 88D radar.

There are "technology refreshments" being considered by the Tri-Agencies (NOAA, DOD, DOT) in the NEXRAD program to provide additional capabilities.  Movement toward Unix systems is gradually taking place.  The current maximum modem speed is 14.4 kbps.

The NIDS contract will end in September 1999, and there are negotiations taking place on changes to the contract.  The emergency management community will more than likely be included in the future arrangement.  The university community would like to obtain the data for use in research and education  purposes.

There has been discussion among the NIDS vendors to provide a core set of products freely available on the Web.


There is no plan in place to assist universities with license fees or support for WXP.  There was concern voiced about the transition between WXP to Java.  It was suggested that a WXP user be a participant on the MetApps Task Force (see Action: 2)

General Discussion:

The next release of McIDAS will be during the June-July time frame.  Tom Yoksas explained that there are usually two releases from SSEC each year, but the UPC tries to release only one per year to reduce the impact on university sites.  Documentation has been a major issue that has hindered the process.  The next release will be a combination of 7.3 and 7.4.

Tony Rockwood initiated a discussion on community representation; how can the overall community be better represented by the UserComm.  There was not total agreement among the Committee that this is an issue.  There are announcements of upcoming UserComm meetings with the draft agenda being sent to the "community" email list.  At the October 24-25, 1994 meeting, the UserComm agreed to divide the community among the members and solict comments. This activity did not produce a lot of feedback to Unidata.  The action item from Oct 24-25, 1994 read:

ACTION: The Users Committee will divide the Unidata sites list and telephone the site representatives to discuss their needs and obtain feedback on their relationship with Unidata.

There was agreement among the Committee that Users Committee representatives should be collecting information from students and gathering concerns from the community, in general, as one of their responsibilities associated with participation.

Action 5:  Dave Fulker will draft a resolution and send it to the Users Committee via email about providing WSR-88D NEXRAD data mosaics for the university community.

There was discussion about the possibility of having two-day UserComm meetings. This issue was not resolved and will be included on the next UserComm meeting agenda.

Prepared by Linda Miller

Questions or comments can be sent to Linda Miller

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