Redesigning how people find and use government-funded climate change data
A partnership with NOAA, NASA, and the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy to explore what key user groups are looking for in climate-change data, how they set about finding it, and ways to make that easier for them.
Climate change will have a myriad of effects across the country. NASA, NOAA, and other federal agencies produce data – models, predictions, and measurements that, in theory, can be used to inform the decisions of those planning for it. This research project was aimed at understanding what data these climate-change decision makers need, how they use it, and how the federal government can make it easier to find and use.
The project had three phases. In the first, we worked with the federal agencies to understand which users to focus on, and to understand the data and analysis they made available, and assumptions they had about what barriers users might face in using the data. In the second phase, we interviewed climate-change decision makers across the country (both in-person and remotely), including city planners, industry specialists, and science translators (experts who try to convey actionable climate-change data and information). From this foundation, in the third phase we developed hypotheses and simple prototypes to test our hypotheses, tested them with climate-change decision makers, and developed a final set of findings and recommendations.
Our report, which is publicly available, covers the problems we addressed, our research goals, and an in-depth discussion of our findings. For detailed description of our research methodologies, see our methodology supplement. One of the project's motivating assumptions was that climate change decision makers needed a centralized federal website to access climate data, but we found that much more important to decision makers were data sets tailored to their specific context and local needs, and we recommended that federal agencies focus on fostering the development of those.
Paired with one other researcher, I helped plan and execute on the project's research goals, from strategy, user recruiting, interviewing, prototype design, testing and iteration, to final synthesis and report of our findings.