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NESDIS/Google Artificial Intelligence Prototyping Initiative

Legislative Mandate:

As stated in Public Law 115-423, the National Integrated Drought Information System Reauthorization Act of 2018, section 6e:

TRANSPARENCY.—Not later than 60 days after the date that a transaction agreement is made under subsection (d), the Under Secretary shall make publicly available, in a searchable format, on the website of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration all uses of the authority under subsection (d), including an estimate of committed National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration resources and the expected benefits to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration objectives for the transaction agreement, with appropriate redactions for proprietary, sensitive, or classified information.

Title of OTA:NESDIS/Google Artificial Intelligence Prototyping Initiative

Date of issue and duration:September 2020 - September 2023

Estimate of committed NOAA resources:

The OTA agreement provides a cost sharing arrangement between Google and NOAA. The agreement itself does not obligate funds, but sets an OTA maximum ceiling amount of $12.9 million for combined NOAA and Google contributions. The first Funding Order is for $10.5 million, of which NOAA’s maximum contribution is $3.5 million, including labor.

The maximum ceiling of $12.9 million only includes phases 1 and 2 of the OTA, projected to last 12 months. The length of time will depend on the outcomes of phase 2, as well as the specific projects selected to pursue. The total ceiling may increase at a later date if both parties agree to pursue the development of prototypes in Phase 3, which is dependent on the outcome(s) of the previous phases. If the maximum ceiling is modified, NOAA will update this estimate of committed NOAA resources.

General objectives of OTA:

With the passage of Public Law 115-423, the National Drought Information System Reauthorization Act of 2018, Congress authorized NOAA to set up Other Transaction Authority (OTA) agreements to partner with commercial, academic, non-profit, and government organizations in order to enhance the effectiveness of its data and satellite systems.

NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service (NESDIS) signed an agreement with Google to explore the benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). Through the agreement, a unique commercial partnership is established between NOAA and Google, which will involve a joint investment of subject matter expertise and funding. The OTA will be performed using a three-phased approach to infuse efficiency, increase scientific impacts, and improve the effectiveness of environmental monitoring and prediction by leveraging AI and ML techniques and expertise. Google and NOAA subject matter experts will jointly explore the use of AI/ML with an end goal of producing an AI-based operational model that addresses large and diverse environmental data sets that advance capabilities in both weather prediction, environmental monitoring, research, and innovation.

Expected benefits to NOAA objectives:

  • NOAA will gain direct exposure and training from Google AI/ML subject matter experts that will enable NOAA personnel to apply those tools and techniques across the organization on additional AI/ML efforts.
  • The OTA may produce usable open source code that NOAA has unlimited use of, for applications that may enhance how NOAA executes its scientific research and address challenges with Big Data in “nowcasting” and Numerical Weather Prediction.
  • The OTA directly aligns with NESDIS strategic objectives to develop agile, scalable satellite capabilities for ingesting data from new sources (e.g. partner and commercial data) and providing new service deliverables (e.g. products).
  • The OTA directly aligns with the NOAA Artificial Intelligence Strategy goals to advance AI research and innovation (Goal 2) and strengthen and expand AI partnership (Goal 4).