NOAA Science & Technology Focus Areas
NOAA’s strategies in six key science and technology (S&T) focus areas guide transformative advancements in the quality and timeliness of NOAA’s products and services across our mission areas. Our strategies in the fields of (1) Uncrewed Systems (UxS), (2) Artificial Intelligence (AI), (3) Cloud Computing, the use of advanced methods to analyze material such as DNA, RNA, or proteins, called (4) ‘Omics, (5) Data, and (6) Citizen Science, help us more efficiently and effectively adopt the breakthrough S&T applications to help deliver the world’s best weather forecasts and to grow the American Blue Economy.
NOAA has recently released three new strategic plans, which are complementary to their strategy documents and provide actionable items for agency wide coordination to meet the following overarching goals: establish an efficient organizational structure, advance research, accelerate the transition of research to applications, strengthen and expand partnerships, and promote workforce proficiency. The strategic plans developed by NOAA to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and coordination of their development and usage across the agency, include:
- Artificial Intelligence Strategic Plan 2021-2025: The overarching goal of the NOAA Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategic Plan is to utilize AI to advance NOAA’s requirements-driven mission priorities. Through this plan, NOAA seeks to reduce the cost of data processing, and provide higher quality and more timely scientific products and services for societal benefits. Read the Artificial Intelligence Strategic Plan here: Artificial Intelligence Strategic Plan 2021-2025
- ‘Omics Strategic Plan 2021-2025: In recognition of the opportunities and challenges presented by the advent of tools associated with ‘omics — a suite of advanced methods used to analyze material such as DNA, RNA, or proteins — the NOAA ‘Omics Strategic Plan provides a framework to advance the application of ‘omics to address mission priorities. The plan leverages NOAA’s current organizational structure to more effectively implement ‘omics through improvements in computational and analytical capacities, targeted research, technology transition, workforce proficiency, and partnerships across NOAA’s lines, federal agencies, and extramural research and commercial communities. Read the ‘Omics Strategic Plan here: wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Omics-Strategic-Plan_Final-Signed.pdf
- Uncrewed Systems Strategic Plan 2021 – 2025: In recognition of the opportunities uncrewed systems presents for addressing NOAA’s mission priorities, the NOAA Uncrewed Systems Strategic Plan is a framework that efficiently provides requirements-driven, safe, cost-effective, and compliant Uncrewed Systems services across the agency; prioritize strategic investments in Uncrewed Systems applications and technologies that fuel innovation and strengthen operations, and accelerate and enhance capabilities through partnerships. Read the Uncrewed Systems Strategic Plan here: https://sciencecouncil.noaa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/NOAA-Uncrewed-Systems-Strategic-Plan-1.19.2021.pdf
The use of these tools is not new to NOAA. In fact we have robust experience and demonstrated leadership with applications across a variety of mission areas and are already delivering successful operational systems that are beginning to pay dividends. To illustrate, UxS is already helping us map and explore more of America’s oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes; AI is analyzing satellite data for severe weather and wildfire detection; Cloud computing partnerships with commercial cloud service providers allow NOAA to make more of its valuable data publicly accessible; NOAA already manages (or has extensive experience managing) environmental data that form the basis of NOAA’s scientific products and services; and, ‘omics is already informing fisheries management decisions. Implementing our strategies more fully will accelerate these advances and serve as force multipliers to solve tough problems and set the course to strengthen our environmental S&T leadership for the coming decades.
In recent years, NOAA and its multisector partners have worked tirelessly to advance successful unmanned systems, artificial intelligence, ‘omics, and cloud solutions that improve our mission accomplishment. The draft strategies will ensure robust agency-wide coordination and strong institutional support from NOAA senior leadership for these emerging science and technology focus areas to guide transformational advances in the quality and efficiency of NOAA’s science, products, and services. An overarching summary of NOAA’s Science and Technology Focus Areas is available here. Summaries of the Uncrewed Systems, Artificial Intelligence, ‘Omics and Cloud Computing strategies highlight impactful examples in each domain and punctuate their five foundational goals.
In recent years, NOAA and its multisector partners have worked tirelessly to advance successful unmanned systems, artificial intelligence, ‘omics, and cloud solutions that improve our mission accomplishment. The draft strategies will ensure robust agency-wide coordination and strong institutional support from NOAA senior leadership for these emerging science and technology focus areas to guide transformational advances in the quality and efficiency of NOAA’s science, products, and services. The NOAA ‘Omics White Paper was developed by the NOAA ‘Omics Task Force (OTF), a cross-NOAA interdisciplinary team established by the NOAA Science Council. The OTF was tasked in 2018 with documenting the portfolio of ‘omics research and activities across the organization, identifying priorities, fostering integration and communication, and formulating solutions to implement challenges in this nascent sector of research. This document informed the creation of the NOAA ‘Omics Strategy and corresponding fact sheet, and thus provides important supplemental information to those documents.
NOAA developed these strategies in accordance with guidance provided by the Administration and Congress, including the Presidential Memorandum on Ocean Mapping, the Office of Science and Technology Policy FY21 Research and Development Priorities letter, the National Science and Technology Council report “Science and Technology for America’s Oceans: a Decadal Vision,” the Executive Order on Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence, the Commercial Engagement Through Ocean Technology (CENOTE) Act and the Federal Cloud Computing Strategy. They also support the goals of the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017 and the National Integrated Drought Information System Reauthorization Act of 2018, for example, to improve weather models and observations as well as the efficiency of NOAA’s computing resources.
At the 2020 AGU Ocean Sciences Meeting, NOAA announced the final release of the first 3 S&T Strategies to guide transformational improvements in performance, effectiveness, and efficiency in every NOAA mission area. Here Dr. Greg Dusek (left), Dr. Tim Gallaudet (center), and Dr. Kelly Goodwin (right) hold up the NOAA Artificial Intelligence, Uncrewed Systems, and ‘Omics Strategy documents, to which they respectively made significant contributions.
The full list of responses submitted to the request for Public Comment for the Four Draft NOAA Science and Technology Strategies: NOAA Unmanned Systems, Artificial Intelligence, `Omics, and Cloud Strategies are here, and the responses/actions per Focus area are: