National Weather Warnings Strategic Review

The Client

The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM)


May – October 2018

The Project

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.

The Interesting Bit

We love the opportunity to help organisations better their knowledge as well having the opportunity to expand ours with a deep dive into new subject matter. This project was both exciting and challenging as it was very sciency and wasn’t your traditional marketing job. However, the underlying purpose for this project was less lives lost. That’s what made working on it so special. As a result of impact-based warnings people would have a better understanding of how severe the weather was going to be and the impact it might have on them personally. By moving to this new system people will be better prepared for severe weather therefore decreasing the number of lives lost. To be a part of a project with such high importance for our nation was a definite highlight.

The Results

  • We identified primary gaps in BoM’s current warning service which would need to be resolved in order for the impact-based warning system to be executed.
  • We created a road map that identified change and implementation points with a timeframe that supported BoM’s goal of implementing the impact-based warning system by 2022.
  • Our roadmap came with 12 recommendations to ensure a successful implementation of the world class impact-based warning system which were all adopted by BoM.
  • We produced an editable catalogue for BoM’s services that updates when changes are made to the information database, allowing BoM to continually update their services catalogue in the future.