The Bureau of Meteorology is currently reviewing their three major practices: forecasting, weather warnings and research into science and environmental issues. Cuckoo was engaged as the major consultant for their weather warnings project. We were to review their existing weather warning system that provided scientific warning types and advise the steps needed to transition it into a world class impact-based warning system. So, rather than a warning that focused on what the weather might be, the warnings would focus on what the weather might do.
This new system was to provide contextual information to the public, that they could use to understand the impact extreme weather would have on their property and life. As a result of this better understanding they could also better prepare. For example, the warnings might change from: “50 millimetres of rain expected” to “Rain expected this afternoon, be sure to pack an umbrella and wear gum boots as roads may flood.”
As BoM is the primary source of information about severe weather for Australians, it was critical that moving forward BoM’s systems were interrelated and their communications consistent. We needed to engage with stakeholders and subject matter experts to understand everyone’s requirements and perspectives. Cuckoo also needed to absorb global best practice and understand the research on what an impact-based warning system should look like.
Throughout the project there was a lot of data to analyse. At the beginning we were given over 650 pages of background reading. We then produced four surveys for stakeholders to complete, which collectively contained over 1,200 questions. Their responses produced over 23,000 data points for analysis of which there were both quantitative and qualitative data. Numerous summary sessions were required for the qualitative data and heatmaps were produced to show the trends in the quantitative responses.
Throughout the entire process there were many stakeholder engagements to ensure they were informed of the work being done, had a clear understanding of its direction and could provide us with feedback. We delivered four major documents to BoM. They said there were parts that were uncomfortable to read as we had identified major challenges to the implementation of impact based warnings, but they accepted our recommendations as necessary for the successful execution of the project.