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Watch the weather on your cell

By   |  February 22, 2007

A new technology demonstrator has been developed that allows people to access satellite information on severe storms through their cell phones. The technology demonstrator – or Personal Digital Assistance Animated Weather System (PAW) – provides near real time information on clouds, rainfall, wind and fires.

The system has been developed by the Space Science and Engineering group of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, while South Africa’s Meraka Institute has been playing a big role in customising the product for South and Southern Africa and providing local information. The Meraka Institute is a national research centre managed by the Pretoria-based Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

The technology demonstrator will provide information on natural disasters such as the fast-moving and furious Cyclone Favio, which is believed to have left a trail of destruction in Madagascar. Favio is reported to be moving towards the southern part of Mozambique and is expected to move towards the North Eastern parts of South Africa.

The new system will enable people to access information regarding the position and direction of the incoming tropical cyclone via their cell phones.

Philip Frost, senior researcher at the Remote Sensing Research Unit of the Meraka Institute, says the tool will provide near real-time information on weather phenomena. “Our interest is to develop and distribute tools that can provide information to the general public,” says Frost, “Most people have cell phones, which will allow easy access.”

“This tool shows actual cloud movements, rainfall intensity and fire locations,” he says, adding that the University of Wisconsin-Madison should get credit for their dedication, innovation and willingness to share this technology.

Kagiso Chikane, the Meraka Institute manager, commends her team of researchers for “a job well done”. “It is exciting to know that Meraka is doing this kind of research that could be of help to people who are facing a catastrophe like the situation in Mozambique today,” she says.

To view the Southern African cyclone tracker go to:
http://www.ssec.wisc.edu/data/paw/eueu_soaf_clds_anim_none.html

To view the South Africa storm & fire tracker go to:
http://www.ssec.wisc.edu/data/paw/eueu_safr_clds_anim_none.html

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