The Regional Resilience Data and Analytics Service (RDAS) prototype received positive reactions and constructive suggestions from experts and participants who virtually joined its demonstration on Wednesday, March 9, 2022, organized by the Regional Integrated Multi-Hazard Early Warning System for Africa and Asia (RIMES) that developed the platform with support of the World Bank through the CARE for South Asia Project.
“I think it is a wonderful effort you’re putting together. It’s such a broad range of information in one place”, Dr. Michael Ernst of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) remarked when sought for his reaction after the demonstration.
Ms. Naho Shibuya, Co-Task Team Lead of the World Bank for CARE Project, on the other hand, commended the RIMES team for the “hard work and also the excellent platform—the prototype—that has been developed” and conveyed her hope for onward system development guided by feedback from a community network.
Mr. Hemang Karelia, World Bank’s Task Team Lead for CARE Project, said that the Bank is looking forward to not only the utilization of the system but the integration of all other relevant systems being developed in different projects into the RDAS for bringing forward “a larger platform which is going to be far more useful”.
Meanwhile, Mr. Nagaraja Rao Harshadeep, Lead Environmental Specialist of the World Bank, remarked that “This kind of system gets a whole new meaning. It’s great to see that the system has come along a lot since we last saw this.”
Mr. Harshadeep went on to underscore the impact of RDAS relative to the CARE Project, saying, “It’s an excellent effort and I think this is the beginning of something that will be a game-changer as far as data and analytics related to climate in South Asia is concerned.” RDAS is part of Component 1 of the CARE Project being implemented by RIMES, which aims to promote evidence-based climate-smart decision making.
Mr. Harshadeep further stressed the importance of making the tool central to numerous data and analytics available and of putting a “concerted effort to make sure this feeds into a data value chain: from data, to information, to knowledge, to decision support” and for RIMES to ensure easy-to-appreciate visual products.
Dr. Itesh Dash, RDAS-DSSs Development Lead of RIMES, thanked Mr. Harshadeep for his inputs and assured him that RIMES team is working towards producing a dynamic and flexible tool, bringing in every possible source of data and analytics available.
Ms. Ruby Rose Policarpio, CARE Project Director, RIMES, further added that “The capacity of RDAS has to be harnessed” in order to “maximize the utilization of the system and its products.” She emphasized, “As we go along into the full development and the deployment of the system, we plan to do experimental operationalization for receiving realistic feedback” to drive further system enhancements/fine-tuning.
On the other hand, RIMES addressed Dr. Ernst’s question on RDAS being able to produce not just long-term but short-term climate forecasts and associated sectoral information that would be useful for evolving anticipatory actions related to seasonal hazards like drought.
Dr. Dash explained that RDAS is being developed in a regional context and his team initially focused on long-term climate change-driven adaptation strategies, for guiding policy, planning and investments in broader regional and country perspectives, and that RDAS is linked to Decision Support Systems (DSSs) which are country- and sector-specific, and for shorter-term early action and preparedness. The RDAS and the DSSs will have continuous linkages in both data and analytics.
Ms. Policarpio further explained that “RDAS will provide complementary support to the DSSs in terms of climate-informed preparedness measures. DSSs are designed to be more sector- and location-specific.” She stressed that “RDAS is for long-term plans and actions while DSSs are focused on short-term decisions. However, the RDAS and DSSs are designed to be guided by, and are expected to evolve depending on, the requirements of the users of the systems.”
Mr. A.R. Subbiah, Director, RIMES, expounded that “RDAS will respond to various timescales of information depending on the needs of regional users, including humanitarian institutions”.
He further underscored, that the “national DSSs will be fine-grained to be used by national and sub-national agencies to provide localized information” and that “DSSs and RDAS will complement each other seamlessly”.
On the sustainability of the system, asked during the question and answer session, Mr. Subbiah explained that RIMES is an “interface institution between climate information providers and users across all timescales” and that “RIMES Member States benefit from RIMES value-added services and in turn, they provide contribution for sustaining RIMES-developed products and services.”
On RDAS being able to accommodate demands for new data and/or analytics from regional and national stakeholders, Dr. Dash explained that RDAs is “a flexible system” and narrated that it started with very limited and restricted information but which has been populated as RIMES team accesses more data/information. Dr. Dash elaborated that the system is user-driven.
Ms. Policarpio echoed him, explaining that the “RDAS and DSSs are designed to evolve even after the project ends” and “to sustain its relevance, data and analytics will be integrated as demanded by users”. She further discussed that the RDAS and DSSs build on open data and software for ensuring both sustainability and scalability.
On the capacity-building of RDAS users, Ms. Policarpio disclosed that user manuals will be developed as the system is developed and that within the CARE project, training for relevant regional and national stakeholders will be conducted post-deployment of the RDAS and DSSs. She emphasized that the experimental testing, subsequent to systems deployment, will provide opportunity for users to immerse in the systems for building their capacity, and at the same time, continuously providing feedback for enhancements.
Mr. Subbiah highlighted that the “users also contribute to the development of the systems and their products” and therefore “co-development takes place”.