BOX 7.1 Visualizing the Pathways for Transition
NASA-NOAA transitions are challenging because they must cross valleys of death and lost opportunities, a journey achieved by following a transition pathway that connects one side to the other (see Figure 7.1 in this chapter). To cross the valleys, each pathway must traverse bridges. Each bridge is composed of building blocks, which include a solid research foundation, laboratories, equipment, computers, algorithms, information technologies, and other necessary infrastructure to support the transition pathway. A weakness in any building block produces a rickety bridge and thus a poor pathway. The fundamental flaw in the present transition system is that NASA and NOAA own the “land at the valley edges,” but nobody systematically designs, builds, and maintains the bridges. As a result, bridges are constructed ad hoc, and their underlying building blocks are of varying quality. The proposed solution is an Interagency Transition Office (ITO) that will develop a solid transition architecture that spans the entire pathway, connecting NASA with NOAA and then NOAA to the user community. The ITO would plan and coordinate the design of consistently reliable bridges built upon robust building blocks, but NASA and NOAA would retain responsibility for implementing the bridges and operating the pathways that cross them.
As discussed in earlier chapters, advances in the remote sensing of Earth’s environment from space hold promise for realizing the vision of an Earth Information System. This system would consist of a four-dimensional gridded set of quantitative, geo-referenced digital data that describe the Earth system. These data would be increasingly valuable to a host of users in the public and private sectors and the academic community. Weather and climate services will benefit greatly from these advances, but it is necessary to improve the process of transitioning research results into operations in order to more quickly realize the return to society from the research investment. This chapter presents an overarching recommendation for an interagency planning and collaboration mechanism and follows up with supporting recommendations for more detailed program and mission design aspects to streamline and support the transition process. See Figure 7.1, which summarizes the issues and recommendations presented in this report, and Box 7.1, which describes how each of the key concepts in the report is related to the image of transition pathways.
Finding: As discussed in previous chapters, the current transition pathways for NASA research to NOAA operations include successful examples that represent strong models for other transition activities. In general, however, transitions have been ad hoc and are often complex and unstructured, at times working well and at other times not working as well as they could or even breaking down entirely. No