A graphical representation of the path from science to applications, using a sequence of nine Application Usability Levels
A graphical representation of the path from science to applications, using a sequence of nine Application Usability Levels, each represented by a colored flag. Odd-numbered levels are shown below the arrow, even levels above. The first three levels (blue flags) bring out the role of discovery science in establishing a proof of concept for the application, levels four to six (green flags) indicate the development phase where that concept is converted into an initial working system, whilst the final three levels (yellow flags) bring out the hard work of refining that system into a robust operational service. Credit: Cid et al. [2020], Figure 1
Source: Space Weather

Now that space weather is internationally recognized as a significant natural hazard, there is growing interest in converting space weather research into products that can help the operators of technological systems affected by space weather.

This transition from Research to Operations (R20) needs a framework that helps scientists and engineers to assess how science can help operators, and then to convert that science into initial products that can be tested and improved until ready and robust for operational use. Application Usability Levels (AUL), as shown in the figure above, are one such scheme, inspired by the well-known scheme of Technology Readiness Levels for hardware systems.

Cid et al. [2020] provide a practical demonstration of the AUL scheme using a previous development of space weather products, namely local geomagnetic indices customized to the needs of a particular user, Red Eléctrica de España, the company responsible for the transmission and operation of the electricity system in Spain. This demonstration provides valuable and generic insights into the challenge set by R2O work.

In particular, it brings out the importance of building a dialogue with those operators, of understanding their concerns, and delivering products customized to their specific needs (which will depend not only on how space weather affects their systems, but also on where those systems are located—in this case the electricity system in Spain).

The authors show how this dialogue can be fitted into the AUL framework. They also demonstrate how that framework provides criteria for assessing the progress of work to transition research into operations, criteria that necessarily include good science, but also a recognition of users’ need for relevant and reliable products.

Citation: Cid, C., Guerrero, A., Saiz, E., Halford, A. J., & Kellerman, A. C. [2020]. Developing the LDi and LCi geomagnetic indices, an example of application of the AULs framework. Space Weather, 18, e2019SW002171. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019SW002171

—Michael A. Hapgood, Editor, Space Weather

Text © 2020. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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