Leveraging New Video Conferencing Technologies for National Weather Service Decision Support
Troutman, Timothy W; Pieper, Corey ; Brice, Tim ; Johnstone, Tom ; Jones, Kerry

Jason Beaman, NWS Mobile, Alabama
Jason Runyen, NWS Corpus Christi, Texas
Matthew Duplantis, NWS Shreveport, Louisiana

The National Weather Service (NWS) is constantly seeking to improve impact weather pre-event briefing and decision support services to emergency managers and media. To this end, the NWS Southern Region formed a Real-Time Video Communication Services team to assess the latest video communications technology. With the video conferencing landscape rapidly changing, it was imperative that the team specify requirements for effectively video conferencing with our core partners. The benefits of providing our core media and emergency management partners with video briefings and training are far reaching; from quickly and easily conducting interviews with the media, to communicating face-to-face with emergency managers who are at an incident without having to deploy to an NWS meteorologist to the remote location. The team was charged with collecting the requirements for video conferencing, evaluating real-time video communication services based upon those requirements, and recommending the services that would be the easiest and most cost effective to use within existing legal and technical restrictions.
The team used the following criteria to determine which software packages would best assist NWS Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) in providing briefing and decision support: a) the video conferencing technology should have a large user base; b) the ability to quickly and easily set-up and run a conference; c) a multi-point video conferencing capability; d) desktop sharing capabilities; and e) user friendliness. The assessment resulted in two recommended software packages: Google + Hangouts * and Goto Meeting HD Faces*. The presentation will describe the advantages and disadvantages of those teleconferencing packages, and provide examples of how the NWS and its partners could better engage with the technology, including a demonstration of their potential. We will also discuss internet bandwidth limitations and the equipment recommended to optimize the videoconferencing experience.

*Mention or display of a trademark, proprietary product, or firm in text or figures does not constitute an endorsement by the National Weather Service, NOAA or the Department of Commerce, and does not imply approval to the exclusion of other suitable products or firms.