NOAA widens info pipeline

In trying to keep up with the public's demand for information, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week awarded a contract to an Internet service provider to upgrade an existing connection, a NOAA official said.

Qwest Communications International Inc. will provide NOAA and the National Weather Service with dedicated Internet access services to provide the public with up-to-date information, including hurricane and fire weather forecasts and images as well as long-range global weather patterns.

Gary Falk, the director of information technology operations in the Office of the Chief Information Officer at NOAA, said that the demand for NOAA's information increases dramatically all the time.

"As services become more detailed and more extensive, the quantity and quality of information increases, as does public demand," he said. "Not only do we provide information to the public, but we also provide a great deal of information to universities across the country."

Qwest will provide a 155 megabits/sec optical connection that can be upgraded to a 2.5 gigabits/sec link as NOAA's needs increase. To illustrate the advancement of the new system, Falk said that in 1996 the system was being run on a 10 megabits/sec connection.

The faster connection will help people looking for information on the NOAA Web site (www.noaa.gov). "The databases are continually updated with things like weather forecasts, etc," Falk said.

For Qwest's services, NOAA will pay a monthly fee of $36,697 based on a one-year contract with two options.

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