Understanding User Decision Making and the Value of Improved Precipitation Forecasts: Lessons From a Case Study

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A case study of the impact of improved precipitation forecasts on the snow-fighting operations of the New York State Thruway is reported. The goal was to use currently available data and literature on forecast process, communication, and use in conjunction with observations and interviews with key decision makers to derive a model that yields estimates of value to users based on a model of their decision processes rather than an optimal decision-making model. That goal proved too ambitious due to limitations in available data. A major lesson learned from this research is the importance of improved, ongoing data collection to support studies of use and value of weather information. A more holistic approach to understanding and realizing forecast value is needed, that is, one in which information (both of forecast skill and usage) centered on the decision process is collected in a much more intensive manner than is presently the case.

Center for Policy Research, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs, The University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York

CIRES Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Thomas R. Stewart, Center for Policy Research, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs, The University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY 12222, E-mail: t.stewart@albany.edu

A case study of the impact of improved precipitation forecasts on the snow-fighting operations of the New York State Thruway is reported. The goal was to use currently available data and literature on forecast process, communication, and use in conjunction with observations and interviews with key decision makers to derive a model that yields estimates of value to users based on a model of their decision processes rather than an optimal decision-making model. That goal proved too ambitious due to limitations in available data. A major lesson learned from this research is the importance of improved, ongoing data collection to support studies of use and value of weather information. A more holistic approach to understanding and realizing forecast value is needed, that is, one in which information (both of forecast skill and usage) centered on the decision process is collected in a much more intensive manner than is presently the case.

Center for Policy Research, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs, The University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York

CIRES Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Thomas R. Stewart, Center for Policy Research, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs, The University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY 12222, E-mail: t.stewart@albany.edu
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