IMD to go hi-tech with touchscreen, hand-held data logging devices

ANJALI LUKOSE

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) will soon use touchscreen, hand-held data logging (HHDL) devices to note readings, compute values, perform quality control checks and disseminate data in near real-time to forecasting stations. The new system, a project implemented by IMD Mumbai, would be operational in January, officials said.

It will allow observers to enter surface weather data, collected every three hours, into the device. With just a touch, the quality-checked data will be processed to generate additional data and a message, which will be sent to meteorological centres through SMS or email. The process would take only around five minutes, said officials. At present, weather data is noted and values are computed manually and sent to other centres through telephonic converstions or email a method prone to human error and constrained by its dependence on electricity and Internet access at observatories in remote areas, said an IMD official.

The HHDL has up to 300 inbuilt quality-checks and can save a year's data on 45 parameters, including temperature, rainfall, humidity, wind speed, wind direction, current weather and past weather, said KS Hosalikar, deputy director-general of meteorology, IMD Mumbai.

"This project is a big leap for us as our observational network is the base of accurate weather forecasting. The new system is paperless and the device is portable and sturdy. Load-shedding at remote observatories will not affect data transmission," added Hosalikar.

This system has been conceptualised, designed and developed by Society for Applied Microwave Electronics Engineering & Research (SAMEER), IIT-B.

"It took 12-18 months for design and development of the system. HHDL will significantly reduce computational and typographical errors. The system is being deployed across Mumbai region now to assess its performance and stability," said Anil Kulkarni, scientist F

at SAMEER.

The project is being coordinated by Shubhangi Bhute, head of IT division at IMD Mumbai. IMD Mumbai recently concluded training of officials in Mumbai.

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