ISP starts storm service

An Internet service provider is launching an Internet-based severe-weather

warning service for its customers this week, and the National Weather Service

hopes other companies will follow suit.

Front Range Internet Inc., an ISP based in Fort Collins, Colo., will

make its WeatherLink service available on its Web site. Customers can sign

up for the service, which will provide NWS severe-weather alerts delivered

to their computers while they are surfing the Internet. Customers will hear

an alarm and see a pop-up window that displays the warning message for a

particular location in Colorado that they choose.

The service could evolve to include locations across the country, and

other ISPs could use the nonproprietary software to provide the same service

to their customers, said William Ward, president of Front Range. The company

demonstrated a prototype of the system Nov. 1.

The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information

Administration challenged a group of Internet, wireless, broadcast and cable

executives at a July roundtable to come up with new ways to use technology

to help deliver warnings of severe weather and other natural disasters.

Front Range is the first to answer the call.

Gregory Rohde, assistant secretary of Commerce for communications and

information, said he is "issuing a challenge to other ISPs" to develop similar

services for their customers.

"We need to have ISPs come to the table, use the technology and become

part of the partnership. We want [other] industries to use these technologies

to enhance warning systems."

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