Joseph Klimavicz, CIO at NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration), spends his time trying to deliver as much technology as he can securely both to the agency and the public.
To deliver, he is focusing on how NOAA can take advantage of cloud solutions and cloud services. “We’ve got a whole host of things we are pushing to the cloud,” he said during a recent Federal Executive Forum on Emerging Technologies.
One area NOAA is pushing to the cloud is geospatial services.
“We’ve been actually taking a strong leadership role across the federal government, especially with the Geospatial Platform,” said Klimavicz. “It is much more economical to take advantage of these public clouds. And so we have been working across the geospatial community to build a cloud solution so that everybody can put their data out there.”
In November 2011, the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FDGC) launched the Geospatial Platform prototype. The FDGC says the website provides an initial view of the future of user-friendly, integrated, federal data collections on common geographic maps.
“This prototype version of the Geospatial Platform combines map-based data and tools with the latest internet technologies to deliver geospatial information in a simple, understandable package. Users-including the public, federal agencies and their partners-can easily find federally-maintained geospatial data, services and applications, as well as access data from our partners across State, Tribal, Regional and local governments,” the FDGC said.
In NOAA we are looking at a 10 fold increase in data volume and data growth by 2020. It’s not just the data growth, but the data sets.”
Klimavicz added that the shared platform and shared services makes it easy for everybody to provide data and pull information as web services. “We are not inventing new technology or new software; we are just using what’s available commercially and we are using it in very innovative ways.”
He said that integrating cloud solutions with existing security operations is something “we are finding needs to continue to mature.” At the same time, although NOAA has a lot of capabilities in place, as they try to move large data sets, “we are spending a lot of time and effort and money in improving our network capacity.”
Cloud integration and increasing network capacity are crucial if NOAA is to leverage the hundreds and hundreds of sites they operate nationwide.
“We really want to take advantage of these capabilities at these sites, but there’s a lot of contractual issues especially with cloud and terms of service agreements.”
Klimavicz, like other CIOs across government, is seeing an incredible need for mobile application development. “Everybody has mobile devices, but we really need to push the geospatial capability down to these devices. So we’ve built different apps that run on mobile devices.”
He is also well aware that while cloud computing and mobile devices bring great opportunity, they also bring significant challenges. “In NOAA we are looking at a 10 fold increase in data volume and data growth by 2020. It’s not just the data growth, but the data sets,” Klimavicz asserted.
“We are very concerned about data preservation. We keep our data forever in long term archives, so data access, dissemination and usability are huge issues for us. We are researching how you automate the analysis and different techniques using data mining and machine learning. Plus privacy is a huge issue when you keep all this information around for a long time. And database interoperability is another big challenge.”
NOAA has a very mature decision making process according to Klimavicz. NOAA has its own CIO Council supported by seven IT committees that meets weekly to make decisions.
“A lot of it is based on how much risk we can tolerate in moving to new technologies,” explained Klimavicz. “We’ve spent a lot of time on data management in the last two years and we’ve completely revamped policies and implementation directives and guidance. We are focused on making the data as accessible and as independently understandable to the users as possible so we can get maximum use, and also focusing in on the life cycle engine of the data.”