INDIA

IMD Launches Digital Portal to Record Weather Conditions

Now, citizens can directly help the meteorological department record real-time data. The public outreach initiative has been launched by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) through a website where people can record realized weather and upload their local weather conditions.
Users will need to add the state and district where the weather event is taking place and categorize the nature of the occurrence accordingly. Additionally, they can also provide information about damage – such as uprooting of trees and telephone lines – as well as damage to crops or death of livestock. “This information can be utilized to further improve our forecast, especially in the short-range. We do not have observatories everywhere, this can vastly improve our network in last-mile coverage,” said M Mohapatra, director general of IMD.
A key reason why IMD has implemented this system is to improve the country’s network of observatories and increase its public connection. On January 1, the Regional Meteorological Centre in Mumbai sought help from resident volunteers to install 50 new rain gauges on their roofs. “Including public participation will help us increase the network, efficiency, accuracy, and verification of the forecasts,” Mohapatra added.
The weather bureau had been considering public participation for nearly three months before rolling out the website. Further improvements such as increasing user-friendliness, better visualization, and archiving of information are planned. IMD hopes involving the public can make them stakeholders in the weather sciences, and improve the quality of its own forecasts.
However, like with any public service, there is always a chance of mischief. “It’s not necessary that people will deliberately provide wrong information – sometimes, they might click the wrong button, or mistake rain for thunderstorms,” he said, adding that IMD plans to verify data inputs from users against its own recordings before displaying them onto the domain.

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