NOAA Big Data Partnership RFI
Abstract:In February 2014, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a Big Data Request for Information (RFI) from industry and other organizations (e.g., non-profits, research laboratories, and universities) to assess capability and interest in establishing partnerships to position a copy of NOAA's vast data holdings in the Cloud, co-located with easy and affordable access to analytical capabilities. This RFI was motivated by a number of concerns. First, NOAA's data facilities do not necessarily have sufficient network infrastructure to transmit all available observations and numerical model outputs to all potential users, or sufficient infrastructure to support simultaneous computation by many users. Second, the available data are distributed across multiple services and data facilities, making it difficult to find and integrate data for cross-domain analysis and decision-making. Third, large datasets require users to have substantial network, storage, and computing capabilities of their own in order to fully interact with and exploit the latent value of the data. Finally, there may be commercial opportunities for value-added products and services derived from our data. Putting a working copy of data in the Cloud outside of NOAA's internal networks and infrastructures should reduce demands and risks on our systems, and should enable users to interact with multiple datasets and create new lines of business (much like the industries built on government-furnished weather or GPS data).
The NOAA Big Data RFI therefore solicited information on technical and business approaches regarding possible partnership(s) that -- at no net cost to the government and minimum impact on existing data facilities -- would unleash the commercial potential of its environmental observations and model outputs. NOAA would retain the master archival copy of its data. Commercial partners would not be permitted to charge fees for access to the NOAA data they receive, but would be able to develop and sell value-added products and services. This effort is still very much in the initial market research phase and has complexity in technical, business, and technical domains. This paper will discuss the current status of the activity and potential next steps.