Friday, July 18, 2008

Software: Real-Time Web Forecasting for Real-Time Weather Forecasts

Snowflake Software will be reporting on an innovative pilot project the company has been implementing with the UK Met Office. The pilot project was a response to the needs of the UK’s highways’ authorities to respond to continuously changing weather conditions on the roads. This is particularly important during the winter months, when awareness of possible adverse conditions is of utmost importance: not only to ensure the dispatch of gritting trucks and snow ploughs as needed; but also to ensure that they are not needlessly (and expensively) deployed if not required.

The pilot concept was underpinned by OGC compliant Web Feature Servers and Web Map Servers. Snowflake Software’s Web Feature Server – GO Publisher - serves highly detailed forecast data which is being updated every six hours. The forecast data predicts a range of road conditions including hazards at high spatial and temporal resolution. Because the client application is able to query the forecast data dynamically through the WFS interface, it is able to fetch information as and when it is needed; thus providing a responsive and interactive interface for the user whilst simultaneously allowing them access to the relevant information from within millions of forecast values. Users can view data as graphs as well as maps: with map views of the forecast being created by combining the WFS data with topographic and weather maps served via a Web Map Server.

The service was also enhanced via the delivery through a web based interface developed using Flex. The application provides a highly interactive resource via the user’s browser, eliminating the need to install and maintain an application on the user’s desktop.

Jeremy Tandy, Chief IT Architect for the Met Office says: “Our business is built on the exchange of information about weather, ocean and climate; all of which are geographic. OGC Web Services and GML provide a mechanism for us to expose our information so that it can plug right into 3rd party products and services. The success of this pilot has confirmed that the OGC Web Services and GML will be a central part of our future IT strategy.”

“This pilot provided a true test of the capabilities of utilizing Web Feature Servers in a real-life situation,” explained Eddie Curtis, CTO Snowflake Software. “To date WFS has shown great promise but, by meeting customer demand for richer and more interactive weather forecasts, this project shows that WFS can really deliver for industrial strength applications.”



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