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The Center for Science and Technology Policy Research was established within the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, to focus on research, education, and outreach at the interface of science, technology, and the needs of decision makers in public and private settings. Learn more..

Lessons in Technology Transfer Policy for the Atmospheric Sciences: A case study in Public-Private-Academic Partnership on Level II Radar Data


After completing installation of 120 NWS weather radars around the country, the National Climatic Data Center started to archive Level II radar data by 1992.  The Level II radar data is high quality data produced from the WSR-88D radars. However, using 8mm tapes to store data, the archival process often proved unreliable and inefficient. The archive was always incomplete and data recall requests usually took months to process, creating a significant obstacle to the utilization of weather data with considerable scientific and commercial value.  NOAA/NWS overcame this obstacle via a public-private-academic partnership.

In 1998, the Collaborative Radar Acquisition Field Test (CRAFT) combined the efforts of the University of Oklahoma, UCAR, University of Washington, and the NWS ROC (radar operations center) to explore the transmission of real-time radar data across the Internet infrastructure.  The vision of CRAFT was to ensure near 100% completeness in the data archival and to be able to access this archive in seconds rather than months.  As CRAFT established itself as a successful prototype initiative for a selected number of radar sites by mid-2001, it began to explore nation-wide implementation.

Over the three-year period from mid-2001 until the successful national unveiling of the system in early 2004, CRAFT collaborators as well as NOAA/NWS and private sector firms partnered to create a radar data distribution system that works toward the common interests of all involved.