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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Big Data Project (BDP)

The VIIRS satellite sensor alone currently produces over 2 terabytes of data daily, and the launch of the next-generation GOES-R satellite in 2016 promises to add another 3.5 terabytes each day. (Photo by NASA/NOAA) 

Blog Post by
David McClure and Maia Hansen

On April 21st 2015, NOAA and the Department of Commerce announced that they had entered into Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs) with Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, IBM, Microsoft, and the Open Cloud Consortium. Under these agreements, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its collaborators will research and explore new ways to enable the use of NOAA data, furthering the Department of Commerce's goals of improving decision-making by government, industry, and citizens; growing the economy; and creating jobs. The CRADAs provide a cooperative research environment where the collaborators and NOAA can work together with the help of data alliances, representative ecosystems of value-added providers and data customers that are organized around each participating cloud provider and share an interest in the use of NOAA’s data. A previous blog: "NOAA’s Data Heads for the Clouds," describes the business model in greater detail.

Each of the CRADAs signed with the five anchor collaborators is identical. By working under the shared language of this CRADA, NOAA establishes a level playing field that both protects the public’s interest in the data, which is a public good created with tax dollars, and allows private sector competitors to work in parallel to reduce the technical barriers and cost of efficient access to NOAA’s vast data portfolio. A copy of the CRADA can be found here.

In its text, the CRADA creates a framework within which the collaborators can explore and test the technical, business, and operational challenges of expanding data access. The CRADA contains NOAA’s standard research agreement language, which forms the skeleton of this framework, as well as defining the specific goals of the collaboration and the guidelines within which NOAA and the collaborators can innovate to achieve these goals. The CRADA is designed to allow the collaborators, their data alliances, and NOAA to focus on harvesting the public and private benefits locked up in NOAA’s data, without unnecessarily limiting or predefining the solution space. NOAA shares the excitement of the open government data community about what might emerge from this research project.

Maia Hansen is a Presidential Innovation Fellows based at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and David McClure is a NOAA employee in the Office of the Chief Information Officer.


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