- Executive Summary
- Appendix (links currently broken)
The WAG Strategic Plan was approved by the ITC and President's Council in early 2001. It presented a broad framework and vision for developing a core infrastructure and web presence for all of UCAR, NCAR, and UOP. The goal was to find common solutions to shared needs in the burgeoning area of the web, and provide some coordination and integration of the diverse efforts of our numerous divisions and programs.
Much of the infrastructure proposed in that vision has been accomplished. The Web Engineering Group (WEG), the official implementation group for the WAG, has built a core web infrastructure and now hosts over 40 division and program websites. Many of the service offerings mentioned in the strategic plan are already in production, including: centralized web hosting, Gatekeeper Authentication, UCAR Search Engine, People Search, Mailman Email Lists, and This Week @ UCAR. In addition, the F&A IT group has built a web infrastructure to meet our more specialized needs related to administration, and has launched numerous web applications including: Time Cards, Online Travel, Data Warehouse, Signature Authority, Advance Notice, and the Awards Database.
Many goals in the strategic plan related to specific web applications, collaborative capabilities, and cataloguing of distributed resources remain to be done. The WAG Implementation Plan prioritizes and plans for how these projects can be accomplished over the next several years. It is a mix of core technologies and specific implementations that solve practical needs.
Inputs into this plan were numerous and included open monthly WAG meetings, a WAG Implementation Plan subgroup, an extensive WAG survey of web professionals and directors from all divisions and programs, and collaboration between the core set of web implementation groups the WAG relies on. Several common project themes emerged and these will be the focus of our efforts in the short term. The WAG will continue to collect feedback on this plan after publication and adjust the plan accordingly to reflect priorities throughout UCAR, NCAR, and UOP.
Top Priority Projects
Test Environment - We currently develop and test websites without the benefit of a separate test environment. This is both a risk to the stability of our production cluster and a potential exposure of content we do not want outsiders to see until launched. The complexity of Java web applications has brought this issue even more to the forefront. It is the consensus of WAG members that this is our top priority for implementation. We need to create a separate test cluster which matches the production cluster environment as closely as possible. Websites and web applications tested in this environment will launch with fewer bugs.
Search Engine Optimization - Complaints about the UCAR search engine have become commonplace. Many users report that they rarely find what they need in the first few results, and often resort to Google instead. WORD user testing confirmed this. The Verity engine that powers our search is highly configurable and we should experiment with further optimizing its settings. Even more importantly, the WAG needs to author best practices guidelines on optimizing content for search engines and expiring outdated content, and then perform outreach to the UCAR/NCAR/UOP web development community to encourage these practices.
Metadata Directories and Catalogs - Valuable resources are scattered throughout our divisional websites. We need to present a more coherent, thematic view of our web holdings to more effectively communicate what we do and enable easier access. Metadata directories have proved very useful for cataloging datasets and we recommend this approach be applied to other types of web resources such as news, scientist profiles, research papers, projects, instruments, and applications.
Next Generation Authentication & Access Control - The current UCAR gatekeeper authorization application is custom software that is showing signs of age and needs to be replaced. Kerberos is currently being tested by the UCAR Security Administrator as a next generation approach. The impacts of this change on our web presence need to be thoroughly researched, with single sign on as a key requirement. In addition, such an approach should be paired with a plan for granular access control to set user and group access privileges for specific content and services. Such a system will likely require integration of the authentication solution with a central directory of users such as an LDAP database to store access privileges. Recent security events will almost certainly precipitate substantial changes in the security architecture deployed at UCAR. Security cards and one-time passwords are likely to become much more commonplace and we will need to address seamless and effective integration of these technologies with our overall web, grid, and authentication infrastructures.
Collaborative Portals - The many projects undertaken by divisions and programs generate a plethora of documents that are often shared simply via email or buried in division file servers and websites. In addition, most scientific projects have numerous collaborators across several time zones. Using a portal framework, we would offer numerous web-based tools for project teams to collaborate and share project resources, such as a document repository, project management tools, threaded discussion boards, and collaborative document authoring. Any division, program, committee, working group, advisory group, team, or project could request their own collaborative portal, control who can access it, and administer the portal themselves via a straightforward GUI interface.
Content Management System - A web presence with tens of thousands of pages like ours and over 100 web content providers becomes unmanageable and out of date without the benefits of a content management system. In fact, symptoms of this problem are already apparent in our web presence. For example, there are so many out of date web pages that one often has to wade through them in search engine results. As of February 2004, the WEG server cluster is logging 1.5 million file not found errors a month. A content management system would give web developers the tools they need to keep content current and error free. It could also enable non-developers to edit selected pages directly.
There are several groups which centralize web activities for UCAR/NCAR/UOP, all of which are key WAG collaborators. These groups will be the primary implementers and advisors for WAG-identified projects. The majority of them already have a member who regularly attends WAG meetings. The WAG also collaborates and performs outreach to all divisions and programs, and has adopted a representational membership strategy with the goal of having a WAG member for every division and program.
Web Engineering Group (WEG) - The WEG is the official implementation group for the WAG and primarily serves the science side of the organization. They are the centralized web hosting service provider for our public and internal websites, and serve all audiences.
Finance & Administration Information Technology Group (F&A IT) - This group serves the business side of the organization by creating web applications that meet administrative and employee needs. They have their own web hosting infrastructure tightly coupled with their enterprise systems. Their primary audience is staff.
Education & Outreach (EO) - EO is a and serves educators, students and the public. The combined traffic for all their websites accounts for the majority of hits served by the WEG hosting infrastructure.
Scientific Computing Division Operations & Infrastructure Support Section (SCD/OIS) - OIS manages the machine room which houses the WEG infrastructure and includes two key groups which the WEG interacts with on a regular basis. The Infrastructure Applications Group (IAG) is a software development group that creates and maintains enterprise applications which are generally coupled with SCD computing resources, such as the SCD Portal and Remedy trouble ticket system. The Distributed Services Group (DSG) supports the WEG with Solaris administration and backup services.
UCAR Communications - The Communications department is a primary web content creator and manages the NCAR/UCAR/UOP umbrella site created by the WORD group as well as This Week @ UCAR and the Digital Image Library. They serve all audiences.
Web Outreach, Redesign & Development Group (WORD) Production Team - This subgroup of the WORD working group built the NCAR/UCAR/UOP umbrella site and will perform ongoing maintenance and development of the site under the direction of UCAR Communications and the WORD plenary group. The WORD production team includes web developers from all 3 organizations who maintain discrete sections of the site appropriate to their function.
Advisors & Domain Experts
Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology Education & Training (COMET) - The COMET program has established expertise in the area of interactive multimedia.
Data Management Working Group (DMWG) - This working group focuses on earth science dataset issues and is exploring how to best meet the data management needs of scientists.
Digital Library for Earth Science Education (DLESE) Program Center (DPC) - The DLESE team is a leader in the use of XML, metadata standards, and the cataloguing of resources with a focus on the education audience.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Initiative - The GIS Initiative is developing an institution-wide program to use GIS software technologies to integrate and analyze different spatial data types from different sources.
Unidata - Also a leader in the area of XML and metadata standards, Unidata provides enabling standards and tools for scientists to manage, analyze, and visualize datasets.
Web Outreach, Redesign & Development Group (WORD) - This working group created the NCAR/UCAR/UOP umbrella site and now acts as an advisory group to UCAR Communications, the WORD Production Team, and the WAG on web content issues.
The WAG implementation plan was developed by identifying the internal and external audiences for UCAR/NCAR/UOP websites, considering the needs of these communities, prioritizing needs, and looking for common solutions. We identified the following primary audiences served by our websites:
- Developers (internal software engineers and web developers)
- Scientists (internal and external)
- Business (corporations interested in our data, research, technology, and software)
- Educators (K-12 teachers, university professors)
- Students (K-12, college, graduate, post-graduate)
- UCAR Trustees, Members & Affiliates
- Government (NSF, EOP, Congress)
The remainder of this document provides a basic description and rationale for each project organized by audience. For more details, please see Projects in Detail in the appendix.
4.1.1. Test Environment
A test cluster will mimic the configuration of the WEG production cluster as closely as possible in order to provide a reliable environment for testing websites, web applications, and software upgrades before moving them onto the production cluster. The test cluster will run Apache, Tomcat, and any other applications required for testing.
We currently develop and test websites without the benefit of a separate test environment. This is both a risk to the stability of our production cluster and a potential exposure of content we do not want outsiders to see until launched. The configuration complexities of Java web applications have brought this issue even more to the forefront. Testing and bug fixing Java web applications requires numerous Tomcat .war file loads and restarts. We need to minimize this kind of activity on our production server, and that demands a separate test cluster. In addition, websites and web applications tested in this environment will launch with fewer bugs.
4.1.2. Search Engine Optimization
The Verity engine that powers the UCAR web search is highly configurable, and we should experiment with further optimizing its settings. Even more importantly, the WAG needs to author best practices guidelines on optimizing content for search engines and expiring outdated content. It will be critical to perform effective outreach to the UCAR/NCAR/UOP web development community to encourage these practices. In addition, we should review and update our host index list. Lastly, the search results interface needs to be redesigned for more effective information display.
Complaints about the UCAR search engine have become commonplace. Many users report that they rarely find what they need in the first few results, and often resort to Google instead. WORD user testing confirmed this. The search engine is a critically important tool for finding pages in our huge web presence and needs to be tuned to serve our users better and maximize our investment in the Verity engine.
4.1.3. Next Generation Authentication
Kerberos is currently being tested by the UCAR Security Administrator as a next generation authentication approach. The impacts of this change on our web presence need to be thoroughly researched and clearly articulated. Single sign on, backward compatibility with existing Gatekeeper protected sites, and seamless integration of authentication services into web designs are key requirements. In addition, such an approach should be paired with a plan for granular access control to set user and group access privileges for specific content and services (see 4.1.4).
The current UCAR gatekeeper authorization application is custom software that is showing signs of age and needs to be replaced. As more websites within a unified web presence like UCAR and NCAR start to authorize users and store their identity and preferences in order to provide application or portal functionality, it becomes essential to centralize the authorization system so that users only have to sign on once. Otherwise, the user 's experience of the overall web presence is one of being constantly inconvenienced by sign-ons, or worse yet, having to repeatedly re-register and remember different usernames and passwords for different servers.
4.1.4. Access Control
Granular access control would enable web administrators to set user and group access privileges for specific web content and services. Such a system would require a central directory of UCAR employees and members, as well as collaborators that need to access protected information. A user should be able to progressively refine their identity and preferences, such as division and project membership, and have that feed all the UCAR and NCAR websites they access. Exploration of the numerous control schemes for web content and systems will need to keep in mind the requirement of integration with our next generation authentication solution.
The WEG currently performs access control using URL keyword realms (such as internal) that rely on UNIX groups composed of Gatekeeper userids. F&A has several web applications which rely on a database to store privileges for Gatekeeper userids. We need a centralized access control solution to avoid duplication of effort and to provide for more flexible and efficient sysadmin control of access to sensitive information and services.
4.1.5. Metadata Directories and Catalogs
Metadata directories have proven very useful for cataloging datasets and we recommend this approach be applied to other types of high value web resources such as news, scientist profiles, research papers, projects, instruments, applications, experts, and partners. Because the requirements for cataloguing these different resources are largely similar, we would first develop a generalized software engineering design pattern and then adapt it for each resource type. A database would store metadata about each resource. In some cases this may be an SQL database, in others an LDAP database. The web interface to the database would provide a way to search, browse, display and administer database rows. It would also support the ability to auto-generate a pop-up menu of resources based on search criteria, which could be called from any JSP or PHP page for placement on the page as a widget or portlet. An example of this is a popup menu of the subset of web applications specifically for scientists which we would want to place on a research tools page. Many of the directories would rely on user participation in order to populate them with information.
Web engineering and production is widely distributed throughout the divisions and programs, and it is important to preserve that autonomy. However, the WAG's charter of constantly improving our overall web presence makes it essential that we more effectively pull those disparate efforts together to present a coherent, thematic view of web holdings for the organization. There are currently no central directories of key high value resources, and the UCAR search engine does not always display helpful results when looking for a specific kind of resource. Cataloguing key resources would dramatically increase the power and usability of our top-level website.
4.1.6. Collaborative Portals
Using a portal framework, we would offer numerous web-based tools for project teams to collaborate and share project resources. Tools could include a document repository, project management tools, threaded discussion boards, and collaborative document authoring. Any division, program, committee, working group, advisory group, team, or project could request their own collaborative portal, control access, and administer the portal themselves via a straightforward GUI interface.
Work at UCAR and NCAR is highly project-driven and especially on larger projects like ESMF and CDP, effective collaboration between team members becomes critical. The many projects undertaken by divisions and programs generate a plethora of documents which are often shared simply via email or buried in division file servers and websites. In addition, most scientific projects have numerous collaborators across several time zones. Rather than force each team to re-invent a collaborative website each time, wasting precious project resources and time, we can provide a template which enables a quick start to a highly collaborative portal for each project.
4.1.7. Content Management System
Content management systems (CMS) provide several key services for managing the content and code that make up websites. One is a content repository, be it a file system or database. Another is file transport for saving and downloading content, including common standards like FTP and WebDAV. File check in and check out tracks who currently owns a file, an essential feature in team web development where multiple people are working on the same files. Versioning provides the ability to rollback to a previous version of a file to resolve errors created by code changes and to track file change history. Support for editions or versions of a site enable site-wide testing and deployment of an overall version of an entire website, essential for more complex Java-based sites where a change in even one class can break functionality in several areas of a site that depend on that class. A CMS can also include specialized interfaces for different author types to contribute content, including simple form-based content creation for non-developers that populates databases. Automatic meta-tag creation, templates, and automatic content review notification and expiration are among the other advantages of a complete CMS. Further requirements gathering and research are required to determine whether we can customize one CMS to meet our extensive needs in all these areas or if we will require several CMSes that form an integrated solution.
Our current system of file management for our websites is a bare bones approach that consists of UNIX file systems which are accessed via Telnet, SSH or FTP. For some projects, CVS is used, providing code management features for developers who work on the command line. However, this leaves a large number of UCAR and NCAR web developers who work with GUI web development tools with no content management solution. A site with tens of thousands of pages like ours with over 100 web content and application providers becomes unmanageable and out of date without the added benefits of a full CMS. In fact, symptoms of this problem are already apparent in our web presence. For example, there are so many out of date web pages that one often has to wade through them in search engine results. As of February 2004, the WEG server cluster is logging 1.5 million file not found errors a month. A content management system would give web developers the tools they need to keep content current and error free.
4.2.1. Applications Directory
This metadata directory (see 4.1.5) would serve the main UCAR and NCAR sites with a directory of all the available web applications running in our web presence. The database would store metadata about each application, providing it 's name, URL, division host, category, audience, description, etc. The web interface to this DB would provide a variety of functionality, including search, and the ability to auto-generate menus of applications based on search criteria for placement in PHP and JSP pages. The database could be extended to also include desktop and UNIX applications.
There is currently no central directory of web applications on the UCAR or NCAR main sites. Finding applications using the UCAR search engine is not an entirely straightforward approach. A specific directory of applications would enable users to find key applications more quickly and perhaps even discover ones they didn't know about.
4.2.2. Support Center
Utilize one of our existing work request/ help request systems to create a system that enables any employee to submit a request via a single form that is dispatched to the right person for the job, regardless of their division or program. Since numerous groups have their own IT support group, the system will need to incorporate business logic to route requests based on the user's group, the related server or service, and the presenting issue. This effort would need to take into account any changes resulting from DIG recommendations. In addition, create a help desk website to make this functionality available and include links to user's guides, FAQs and helpful resources for systems and applications across the organizations.
Numerous divisions and programs have their own support request systems, many of which are only understandable for sysadmins and developers. Since there is not a way for many users to submit a support request via an easy to understand centralized form, they often have to ask around until they find their way to the right support person for the system and group their request relates to. Streamlining this system could dramatically improve work request resolution efficiency. Effective computing support is a core aspect of employee efficiency.
4.2.3. Intranet Portal
An Intranet Portal would provide a customizable interface to UCAR, NCAR, and UOP employees. It would focus on employee-oriented content such as F&A web applications, HR content, and internal news. Integrating with the NCAR website redesign, it would become the Employee audience home page. Users would be able to personalize their home page, selecting from a list of content, applications, channels, and portlets. The site would provide quick access to people search, directories, announcements, menus, classifieds and other internal resources. It would also feature some of the compelling content we would be offering to our external audiences.
Our overall web presence is vast and not well integrated into a meaningful information architecture that helps users find what they need quickly and easily. There are numerous types of employees: scientists, developers, managers, admins just to name a few, each with their own specific perspective and needs. To fulfill these different needs will require the ability to customize one 's home page based on role and interests. A personalized Inside UCAR page for each employee could result in real increases in personal productivity, giving employees exactly what they need at their fingertips via one web page.
4.2.4. Document Repository
The many projects undertaken by divisions and programs generate a plethora of documents which are often shared simply via email or buried in division websites. The document repository would support the capability for a user to create a shared workspace for a project and enable collaborators to contribute documents to the area for all to access. Users would fill out a form for each document to briefly categorize and describe it. The system would support organizing documents into a folder hierarchy as well as keyword search of both metadata and full text. All popular document types would be supported.
Sharing documents in a centralized work area will enable more effective group collaboration and communication. It also provides an archive of work accomplished and decisions made for later reference.
4.2.5. Request for Proposal (RFP) & Scientific Proposal Document Repository
Each time a new scientific proposal or RFP process started, we would create a new directory within a top-level proposals directory of the document repository (see 4.2.4). It would store the proposal or RFP and the response we receive from funding agencies or vendors. Project administrators would be able to create secure document directories and access control lists for sensitive documents. When necessary, administrators could also set up directories for funding agencies or vendors to access documents.
RFPs and scientific proposals are often just emailed back and forth, sometimes using password encrypted .zip files. Setting up a collaborative space makes sense given how interactive the proposal process often is. Such a document space would ensure that project documentation is centrally stored and tracked. Security concerns can be addressed through access control lists and SSL encryption.
4.3.1. Test Environment
See description in 4.1.1.
4.3.2. Collaborative Software Development
This system would support numerous software development projects at UCAR and NCAR, providing core elements that support development groups such as a code repository, task management, bug tracking, and forums all wrapped by a website. Developers would still use their development tools of choice.
Currently, each software development group installs, configures and maintains their own separate solutions for each of these elements, duplicating effort, and not providing the level of integration and collaboration that a package like this could offer.
4.3.3. Developer Components Library
The WEG already maintains a repository of recent versions of open source web development resources such as languages, application servers, plug-ins and function libraries. This would be an expansion and formalization of that repository. It would provide web engineers with the convenience of commonly used tools already compiled for the UCAR web cluster. A metadata catalog would provide basic information about each resource.
By providing a base of pre-compiled development resources for use in creating applications to run on the web cluster, we will make it more straightforward for web engineers to begin development projects without having to make installation requests to the WEG. In addition, we are encouraging the use of WEG-recommended development frameworks.
4.3.4. Best Practices Knowledge Base
A searchable database of best practices articles written by the WAG, WEG, software engineers, web developers, and content creators would be an excellent resource that encourages professionalism and high quality. The scope of the database could grow even further by inviting SCD and F&A IT system and net administrators and other computer professionals to contribute to the knowledge base.
The current lack of professional standards and guidance result in practices that vary widely from employee to employee. A collection of best practices would be an important resource and mechanism for mentoring throughout the computing community at UCAR and NCAR. This project is closely linked to the Software Engineering Knowledge Management advisory group process.
4.3.5. Web Services Framework
Web Services is a term that encompasses a number of protocols and emerging standards including UDDI, WSDL, XML, and SOAP, for implementing and serving web functionality that can be used by many different sites in a distributed fashion. For instance, Google offers a web service that enables web developers to search the Google database and return results to the user in the developers own page design, perhaps mixed with results from an internal search engine as well. This approach to creating core functionality that can be shared across sites is rapidly expanding in popularity. We need to provide a central web services framework and some guidelines for UCAR and NCAR web developers to encourage shared functionality and enable easy discovery of all our available web services. At a minimum, we need to centrally host a UDDI server and provide a couple sample web services.
Web Services enable the creation of functionality which can be easily used across multiple websites. UCAR and NCAR has over 100 web servers, many of which could use shared enhancements to functionality, making our web presence an ideal place for web services to make a difference. By providing a central UDDI server, we avoid a situation where there is no central place for discovering available web services at UCAR
4.4.1. Applications Directory
This audience requires the expansion of the Applications Directory described in 4.2.1 to include desktop, UNIX, and supercomputer applications as well. In addition, gathered application metadata should be integrated into other portals and web applications where appropriate. For instance, the Community Data Portal below could use application metadata to provide links to appropriate data analysis and visualization tools for selected datasets.
4.4.2. Community Data Portal
The Community Data Portal is a current project funded by the Cyberinfrastructure Initiative. This metadata directory brings together scientific datasets from UCAR, NCAR and UOP into a central location where researchers can find datasets of interest, and then use available analysis and visualization tools on those datasets. The WAG recognizes this project for meeting the key needs of scientists and strongly supports ongoing development, support and transition to operational status for this vital web application.
Datasets are scattered all over UCAR and NCAR division sites and many datasets are still not listed in a shared repository. By standardizing dataset descriptions, locating them centrally, and providing a metadata search mechanism, researchers will be able to find datasets of interest in a much more streamlined fashion. By gathering our data resources into a single, collective resource for the scientific community, we can extend our accessibility and influence to UCAR member universities and atmospheric scientists worldwide.
4.4.3. Scientists Directory
This metadata directory (see 4.1.5) would provide scientists with the ability to describe their specialty, publish their CV, list publications, and describe their current and future research. Scientists would fill out a series of web forms and a small individual website of several pages would be created for them automatically. This functionality would give each UCAR and NCAR scientist their own work-related home page with a minimum of effort, no HTML experience or tools required. There would be a mechanism to include scientists in the directory who have already designed and built their site previously.
Scientists are at the heart of what NCAR does, and we are viewed as an authority. By providing a more centralized view of our Scientist Community here at NCAR, we are giving all our audiences an important look at who we are and what we accomplish. Such a directory may help scientists around the globe find NCAR collaborators. In addition, NCAR scientists will be empowered to share their published and unpublished work with minimal effort on their part.
4.4.4. Annual Scientific Report (ASR) Web Application
The process of building the ASR is a highly collaborative and multi-user affair which is currently a very manual activity involving cutting and pasting between Microsoft Word and HTML templates as well as the SCD SKIL web application. The end-product is a static HTML website. Because the report is highly standardized with a workflow that needs to be enforced, it is an excellent candidate for a web application. Metadata about our scientific accomplishments would be gathered via web forms and populate records in a database. A workflow component would enforce business logic for how the report should be built according to schedule. The ASR would become a dynamic website that requires no manual assembly. In addition, ASR metadata could be delivered quite flexibly to the umbrella website and divisional websites.
The ASR represents some of our most valuable metadata and yet it lies buried the rest of the year in a static HTML website that is not easily searchable. By making it a database-driven web application, we will be able to significantly streamline the ASR process and create a centralized searchable catalog of our scientific publications and current projects. In addition, we can deliver ASR metadata throughout our umbrella and divisional websites, more effectively communicating our significant contributions to science.
4.4.5. Collaborative Document Development
Using a web-based document collaboration solution like Swiki, we would enable asynchronous collaborative document development for groups engaged in research projects, IT projects, proposals, reports and more. Users would log into a collaborative website, create a new document or find an existing one, and then begin editing the document. Over time, each document would grow and take shape from the input of many contributors. This functionality could be loosely integrated with a collaborative portal to add an important tool in the collaborative process.
Passing Microsoft Word documents around for markup can quickly break down into an unworkable process, particularly when there is not one person who is a central author. By providing a collaborative environment for document creation, we will make a key process at UCAR/NCAR more efficient and encourage documentation, an important contributor to institutional memory.
4.4.6. Conference Registration
Divisions and programs put on scientific conferences, some of which require a registration fee. This web application would automate online registration and payment for those conferences and be integrated with our eCommerce architecture.
The current approach to registration involves back and forth exchanges via email, phone and mail which are inefficient. This system would collect all required information automatically and minimize impact on admins.
4.5.1. Technology Transfer Catalog
This metadata catalog (see 4.1.5) would be a central clearinghouse for UCAR technologies which are available for commercial licensing, development partnership or purchase. Divisions and programs would be able to enter and maintain their own listings, analogous to publishing a classified ad. The site would be featured in the umbrella site and increase the visibility of NCAR technology development.
The current Technology Transfer site provides a limited glance at the main categories of our available technologies. A more compelling look could increase the number of inquiries we receive. More effective technology transfer will accomplish our mission of impacting the commercial sector and the general public through our research. In addition, it will provide a showcase for our research.
4.5.2. Grid Services
Provide business entities access to our grids using subscription-based and/or pay-per-use models. As grids such as the Earth System Grid take shape, there may be an interest in the business sector to use these data repositories and shared computing resources for the purpose of research or the creation of new products and services. Business access to the grid would require an accounting system that tracks data throughput and CPU hours and charges business accounts accordingly. There would also be many issues to resolve around data and computing access privileges as well as licensing.
Increase collaboration with the business sector and share some of the costs of grid development and maintenance.
4.7.1. Document Repository
A searchable repository of meeting minutes would enable more efficient access to information about discussions and decisions. In addition, members may want to set up collaborative areas for committees where they can submit their own documents to be shared. This would be an instance of the Document Repository mentioned in 4.2.4.
The current approach of simply linking to minutes documents does not provide sub-search capability and also does not enable partners to collaborate by uploading their own documents as necessary.
4.7.2. Members Directory
Add trustees, members and affiliates to the SCD LDAP database so that they can be found using the same People Search mechanism employees use to find each other. Create a specialized search for finding just these audiences in the Governance section of the site, and create dynamic pages listing each audience.
Our partners are currently listed across several separate HTML pages for each sub-group. By bringing these listings together into a searchable database, UCAR employees and members would be able to find each other more easily.
4.7.3. Meeting Registration
This simple web form would automate member registration for meetings. Members would be notified via email to go to a URL where they would fill out a registration form to confirm their participation. The system could be as simple as a form whose results are emailed to an admin, or it could populate a database. This could either rely on project 4.4.6 or be it's own smaller-scale custom solution.
The current approach to registration involves back and forth email exchanges which are inefficient. This system would collect all required information automatically and minimize impact on admins.
4.7.4. Presentations Repository
This would be an instance of the Document Repository (see 4.2.4). Our partners have a need to give presentations to their organizational peers about UCAR, NCAR and UOP. A repository of official PowerPoint presentations would be an excellent resource for our partners who otherwise have to make up their own presentations.
By providing official presentations, we would help our partners to communicate a consistent, accurate and up-to-date message about UCAR, NCAR and UOP.
4.8.1. Official Reports Website
This website would bring together into one place the official periodic reports published by UCAR/NCAR/UOP management.
Official reports are currently located at various websites requiring users who are interested in UCAR and NCAR progress and strategic plans to scan our web presence. Centralizing this information would be a convenience to our funding and governance audiences as well as UCAR/NCAR/UOP employees.
4.9.1. Experts Directory
This metadata directory (see 4.1.5) of UCAR and NCAR scientists would provide the media with expert contacts in specific fields and specialties. For instance, a member of the press could search the experts database for hurricane or global warming and find a list of experts in those research areas which they could then call or email for comment on a news story under development.
As a National Center, we should help lend perspective and educated opinion on national news related to weather and climate. Enabling the media to have more transparent access to our expertise would help fulfill that goal.
4.9.2. Press Release Notification
Members of the press (and other interested audiences) should be able to subscribe to receive UCAR press releases via email. This web form would enable users to add and remove themselves from a press release mailing list served by UCAR 's existing Mailman list manager.
Proactive communication with the media will increase news coverage of our stories. Also, by providing services like this for the media, we create a stronger sense of partnership with them.
4.10.1. Virtual Tour
In the interest of creating a comprehensive virtual tour of UCAR and NCAR, we should update the NCAR Exhibits Virtual Tour to include information about the NCAR Mesa Building, Foothills and Center Green campuses, as well as our VisLab and supercomputing facilities. It could also be enhanced with video content, either new or existing.
A virtual tour capability is a great way to give the general public a sense of who we are and what we do. The current tour is very good and just needs some updating to make it more comprehensive.
4.10.2. News Metadata Catalog
We can deliver the right stories in the right places in our web presence by cataloguing our news metadata (see 4.1.5).. Remote Syndication Server (RSS) shows promise as a news syndication solution and would provide any website at UCAR and NCAR with the ability to feature relevant stories using automated RSS newsfeeds from the catalog.
UCAR and NCAR employees write many stories but they reach a limited audience since they are often only for print publications or are buried in our websites. Creating a central catalog of these stories, categorizing them and delivering them to the appropriate audiences by featuring them on web pages throughout our presence will not only make our sites more engaging but also project a stronger image of UCAR and NCAR 's scientific contributions and expertise.