the Pipeline

Whither the weather?

Predicting the weather has always been a tricky proposition, but you can't go wrong when you get the weather report in real time.

The new WeatherBug Streamer 3.0 from WeatherBug is an online application that provides streaming weather information down to the neighborhood level.

Targeted to first responders, the product offers personalized severe weather data via its proprietary network of 8,000 tracking stations and 1,000 cameras deployed nationwide.

The product is helpful not only when dealing with natural disasters and severe weather but also when coordinating a response to a terrorist attack. For example, if officials knew wind conditions, they could determine the direction in which smoke or hazardous chemicals would travel and evacuate accordingly.

In addition to wind conditions, customizable weather data includes local radar and satellite feeds, weather contour maps, lightning strikes, live camera views and forecast updates. Users can select up to 23 warnings, including alerts for storms, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, marine advisories, fire conditions and civil emergencies.

Using this information, emergency managers can determine which areas to evacuate, select approach routes for first responders and choose which equipment to send to a disaster area.

Users can also set thresholds for any of the WeatherBug tracking stations. When those thresholds are reached, the system sends an alert to responders managing the affected area.

Examples include temperature, heat index, wind speed, wind chill and gusts, rain rate, and daily rain accumulation. Users can also monitor lightning, hail and heavy precipitation.

The detailed, full-color graphic presentation bursts from the screen and lets users observe up to five layers of weather data on the same map. They can pan and zoom to view maps of roads and counties and add their own custom data, such as the locations of fire hydrants and hospitals.

Drop and swap

Getac's MobileForce W130 series of rugged notebook PCs just got a little more attractive for government users. With the addition of a removable 1.8-inch hard drive from Toshiba, the machines are lighter and less power-hungry.

The interchangeable hard drives come in 20G, 40G and 60G sizes. According to Getac, they are more rugged and reliable than 2.5-inch drives with similar storage capacities.

The beauty of a removable hard drive is that users can share a single notebook PC without worrying about lost, corrupted or stolen data. They can simply take the data with them.

On the General Services Administration schedule, the W130 is $2,785 for single-unit quantities. Discounts are available.

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