Colorado combines GIS, weather data

Colorado is deploying a Web service that allows emergency management workers to view weather data overlaid on geographic information.

The state is implementing WeatherBug’s GIS Data Services in its Emergency Operations Center and will also work to integrate the capability into a Web-based common operational picture viewer. The latter is intended for use by emergency response workers statewide.

WeatherBug, a provider of local weather information, delivers its GIS Data Services offering as an ESRI Web service. ESRI is a geographic information system vendor. WeatherBug’s GIS Data Services may be integrated with ESRI such products as ArcGIS and ArcIMS. The Web service lets organizations integrate live weather information culled from WeatherBug’s 8,000 tracking stations into GIS-based decision support systems.

The Web service provides current surface weather data such as rain rate and wind speed and direction, with updates every five minutes.

Jon Gottsegen, Colorado’s state GIS coordinator, said WeatherBug's Web service feeds into the state’s Emergency Operations Center. At the center, the output from a GIS workstation may be shown on an electronic wall display. The ability to include weather data on that display will allow center employees to pinpoint the location of severe weather.

Gottsegen said he is working to integrate the WeatherBug weather data feed into the common operational picture viewer. The viewer will enable emergency responders working in different agencies or locations to see the same information.

Christian Solomine, business development manager at WeatherBug, said Colorado is the first state to adopt GIS Data Services. He noted that more than 50 state, local, federal and commercial customers are in trials with the Web service. Many organizations evaluating the software are police, fire or emergency management departments, he said.

John Moore is a freelance writer based in Syracuse, N.Y.

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