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NOAA Pathfinder Initiative

Science Working for Society

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The NOAA Pathfinder Initiative is a volunteer effort, where customers/users from society help NOAA co-develop end-to-end value chains.  Pathfinders draw information by bringing together the local decision-makers from municipal, county, and state levels so NESDIS can understand how NOAA information informs day-to-day operational decisions.   The goal of Pathfinders is to build relationships across thematic areas such as fire, air quality and coastal flooding, in order to assess the societal value and impact of NOAA data.  The user information collected is translated into technical requirements that inform the decisions and prioritization of products and services across NESDIS. 

As part of their commitment, NOAA Pathfinders conduct tabletop exercises assessing the potential impacts of NOAA information and services (current and future) in a thematic and regionally specific real-world situation.  Tabletop exercises offer a safe environment to test and evaluate response capabilities, identify areas for improvement, and enhance preparedness. Tabletops contribute to the development of a resilient and proactive approach, ultimately leading to better outcomes in real-world situations.

Why You Should Care

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As a Pathfinder you will share the real world needs and impacts of your operational environment to inform the growth, and development of future NOAA data, products and services.  NOAA Pathfinders are considered to be the front line of expert users that can tell the story of how data is used in society and why it matters.  Pathfinders demonstrate  the value of environmental information through their day-to-day operations for their regionally specific area of the world.  Our NOAA Pathfinders help create a suite of value chains  years ahead of new mission launches so the information collected from Pathfinders can inform decisions related to instrument selection, product development, and service delivery.

Our Pathfinders contributions help add value to NOAA’s overall service mission through the co-development traceability matrices that point to the tangible impacts of NOAA’s services to society. 

The NOAA Pathfinder Community aims to provide individuals and groups with the unique opportunity to network and share information about their use of NOAA data in pre-launch research. Through collaboration and information sharing, the Pathfinder Community will seek to foster new partnerships, generate new knowledge and innovations, and promote interdisciplinary research using NOAA data. If you are interested in joining either community, please fill out this form

The Pathfinder Community 

The Pathfinder community is made up of the Community of Practice and Community of Potential, valuable yet distinct groups that comprise, sustain, and promote the Pathfinder Initiative.

  • The Pathfinder Community of Practice includes groups and individuals who are familiar with NOAA products, have a well-defined need for proposed NOAA data products, and will optimize their use of NOAA products, possibly even before launch as part of the NOAA test-bed activities and NOAA calibration/validation (cal/val).
  • The Pathfinder Community of Potential includes groups and individuals who, despite less familiarity and immediate application for satellite data products and NOAA capabilities when compared to Community of Practice members, could leverage and benefit from NOAA data and services in the future.

NOAA Missions, which include Geostationary (GEO), Low Earth Orbit (LEO), and Space Weather Follow On (SWFO), sponsor Pathfinders to help them incorporate their contributions into the mission planning documentation, provide them with simulated mission data products; and/or provide them with planned pre-launch cal/val data from field campaigns.

Individuals who join the Pathfinder Community have the following benefits:

  • Participation in NOAA Pathfinder events including workshops, focus sessions, and exercises: NOAA will host events for the community to provide support and information on data products, gather feedback, share schedules and timelines, and answer questions.
  • Be in the know about NOAA Missions: As a member of the community, you will be among the first to know about any new features of NOAA’s science data products and to receive updates and newsletters related to NOAA missions.
  • Simulated data: In select instances, Pathfinder community members gain access to simulated and proxy NOAA data, cal/val data from NOAA field campaigns, modeling, and synergistic studies to help enhance their work.