CASA Dallas/Ft Worth Living Lab for Severe Weather

Information doc: 

Brenda Philips, Director, CASA, Electrical & Computer Engineering, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 151 Holdsworth Way, Amherst MA , USA  01060.  413-577-2213,


The CASA Dallas Fort Worth Living Lab for Severe Weather (CASA WX) is an open innovation environment for severe weather warning technologies, policies and human behaviour. Located in North Central Texas in the United States, the Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) Metroplex is the 4th largest in the US and is vulnerable to all types of natural hazards, including tornados, thunderstorms, floods, and hurricanes. CASA WX is operated through a multisector partnership that includes a regional development organization, local public safety officials, academic institutions, federal organizations and industry. The main partners include the University of Massachusetts, Colorado State University, University of Oklahoma, North Central Texas Council of Governments, National Weather Service, City of Fort Worth, and EWR Radar. Our goals are to: 1) create locally-driven models for the implementation and use of radar networks for public safety and economic benefit; and 2) to continue to develop the technology and its usage through research and experimentation in real-time weather events.


Our living lab features a unique, cutting-edge severe weather warning system that includes X-band radars and other atmospheric sensors, high spatiotemporal resolution observations and forecasts, and data dissemination using new internet architectures, and visualization through the web, mobile apps, and other decision support tools. This technical infrastructure operates whenever precipitation occurs in the DFW Metroplex and disseminates real time information to users for decision-making, evaluation and feedback. Users include the local National Weather Service forecast office, media, stormwater mangers, weather sensitive industry, and members of the public. These users are our co-creators for the living lab. This warning system also functions as a “plug and play” platform for technology innovation where private companies can validate their warning system technologies without having to incur the time and cost of creating their own severe warning system test bed. The academic partners and the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) have pioneered a collaborative structure that could serve as a replicable model for deployment of radar and other sensor networks. In this model, a regional organization spearheads the deployment of the radar network to address the local needs of the region, and obtains funding to deploy and operation the radar network through membership fees and other sponsorship.

CASA, which stands for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere, was an Engineering Research Center (2003 – 2013), was originally funded by the US National Science Foundation, and led by the University of Massachusetts Amherst with core academic partners Colorado State University and University of Oklahoma. CASA has created a new paradigm for severe weather observation and forecasts by researching and implementing adaptive networks of small x-band radars that provide high spatial and temporal resolution observations in the lowest levels of the atmosphere. The technology was validated in a test bed in Oklahoma over a five-year period. Although the original grant is now complete, CASA Engineering Research Center continues to operate through programs such as the CASA Dallas Fort Worth Living Lab for Severe Weather.

References and Track Record

• A Five-Year Partnering Agreement between the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) and the University of Massachusetts (on behalf of the other partner universities) establishes the goals of the project, budgets, hardware and fundraising commitments.

• As of fall 2015, 6 radars operated in the network including equipment provided by four private x-band radar companies at no cost to the network. These companies are validating technology, testing value propositions, and developing business models that could result in these networks being deployed in other cities internationally. 

• Weather information is dessminated to over 500 public safety officials in real time as severe weather occurs in the metroplex.