UNC Asheville’s NEMAC, established in November 2003, specializes in science communication and the development of decision support tools for local, regional, and national decision makers, planners, and the public.
We help people understand the relevance and importance of complex issues such as climate and weather, forest health, natural hazards, land use planning, and the efficient use of our energy and water resources. Our tools—developed with the assistance of UNC Asheville undergraduate research students—include web applications, interactive geographic information system (GIS) applications, multimedia delivery technologies, and print media. NEMAC and its many partnerships bring students, scientific professionals, and local decision makers together to help solve problems facing our society.
NEMAC supports its applied research through mechanisms such as grants, contracts, and agreements with our various partners, including federal agencies; city, county, and state governments; and local entrepreneurs.
The NEMAC research team begins with data sets from trusted local, regional, and national sources. We then examine the interaction of human infrastructure with the environment to address particular issues by creating decision support tools designed to be easily understood and used by policy makers and the general public.
Partnerships are Key
Part of NEMAC’s strength is in its ability to create partnerships. Leveraging the resources and talents of government, education, non-profit, and private industry allows for projects that promote economic development, advance public education, and address regional and national issues. Together these groups provide the scientific, computer, and statistical expertise to prepare and analyze disparate databases, such as historical climate data and remotely sensed data.
Decision Support Tools
NEMAC has considerable experience designing decision support tools of all types, from interactive web sites, map viewers, and GIS mashups to animations, movies, posters, and facilitated meetings. All the tools support a four part strategy:
- Integrating Information: Combining trusted data sources—such as GIS data, images, text, and data feeds—into informative visuals that are accurate, current, and tailored for decision making
- Visualizing and Distributing Information: Using multimedia delivery technologies and web application development to deliver the visuals to decision makers in a dynamic and rapid manner
- Explaining Information: Telling the story through science communication, narrative, education, and outreach that meet decision maker needs and provide context for the decision
- Using Information: Assisting with group decision making through facilitation, scenarios, and dealing with uncertainty