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Finding Gulf TREE through the forest of tools

By: Renee Collini / Published: Jun 02,  2017

What is Gulf TREE?

There are many tools and models that can be used to understand and plan for climate change in both the built and natural environment. However, the large number of tools and their varied purposes can generate frustration and confusion for decision-makers when trying to determine which tool is best for a particular activity or project. Which is why the Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative, the Gulf of Mexico Climate and Resilience Community of Practice and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance decided to partner on an online, interactive decision support tree to help end-users find the right climate tool or model.

Last year, I blogged about the exciting opportunity we had received from the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program to move forward with this idea. We have been in full swing and are happy to say that not only are we making progress we also have a name for the decision tree: The Gulf Tools for Resilience Exploration Engine, or Gulf TREE!

Gulf TREE will have two methods of sorting through the tools and models available. The first will be a series of guided questions. As each question is answered it will narrow down the available field of tools to the best one or few that meet the needs of the end-user. The other method will be an advanced filtering mechanism that allows you to select different filters narrowing the list to as many or as few as the user would like based on their filter criteria.

How are we building Gulf TREE?

Partner input! We conducted six workshops across the northern Gulf and one virtual workshop to better understand what Gulf of Mexico decision-makers would like to see in Gulf TREE. We wanted to understand the climate issues and questions being faced, the aspects of tools that are critical when making a selection, what could be done to increase comfort with tools and tool selection, and what features were the most essential to be included in an online, interactive decision-support tree. We have recently completed and released a report, Feedback on climate tool use and needs from users across the Gulf of Mexico, that catalogs all the information we gathered at these workshops!

We are now using the workshop feedback as we sort through the over 150 climate tools that were identified for the Gulf TREE current coverage area. We are making sure that the issues, features and concerns the partners and end-users identified as important are fully integrated into Gulf TREE. This includes cataloging and assigning values on a wide range of issues for the tools, from cost, to expertise, to climate topics and issues.

Current Gulf TREE coverage area.
Current Gulf TREE coverage area.

We are also working with Radish Lab, experts in web design, to build Gulf TREE. It is an exciting time! We are working through wire frames of the websites, color schemes and creative designs, ensuring that the designs are beautiful, clean, effective, and functional. At each step, we also engage with a team of end-users who have volunteered to “alpha” test our designs to be sure that what we are building works well for a variety of end-users.

Learn more about Gulf TREE at www.gulftree.org and sign up for our listserv.

You can also learn about the Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative at www.ngomssc.org or follow us on twitter @NGOM_SSC!

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