Volunteers are wanted to participate in two focus groups next week in Durango that are aimed at improving how National Weather Service websites present data on current river conditions and forecasts for river conditions.
“There is a tremendous amount of data that is available, and we want to find out which is most important to people and how to make it easier to read and interpret to help them in their decision-making,” said Rachel Hogan, executive director of the Nurture Nature Center, a nonprofit organization in Easton, Pennsylvania, that focuses on flooding and other environmental risks, as well as risk communication.
The focus groups will be divided into one session aimed at professionals, such as first-responders and government officials involved in emergency management, and a second session for residents, such as farmers, ranchers and recreational river users who seek data from the NWS such as the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center as part of their jobs or to plan trips.
The focus groups will meet from 2 to 4 p.m. and from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. April 9 at the Durango Public Library, 1900 East Third Ave. The session from 2 to 4 p.m. will be for first-responders and other professionals, and the 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. session will be for residents.
Each session is limited to 15 participants, and people who sign up for the 5:30 to 7:30 session for nonprofessional residents will be paid $50 for participating.
Anyone who is interested in attending the session should register by signing up at focusonfloods.org and clicking on the “Focus Groups Register Here” box.
“We’re looking for a wide range of perspectives to see what data they use, what is most effective and what we can do to improve the presentation to make it more helpful and useful,” Hogan said.
Feedback from the focus groups will be used to make recommendations to NWS on how to improve websites for clarity and effectiveness, Hogan said.
The Nurture Nature Center will make recommendations about how to improve websites and plans to hold a second session of focus groups in Durango in the fall to test their recommendations with first-responders and residents.
A report recommending upgrades to websites based on responses from the focus groups will be presented to NWS in about a year, Hogan said.