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Summary of Comments on Mobile NHC/TPC Products


The Tropical Prediction Center (TPC) has conducted experimental delivery of selected products on the TPC web site in the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP). Comments on this experimental service were requested during the period May 21 to June 30, 2003. Forty-three e-mail comments were received: in two cases, two messages were from the same respondent and have been combined (one case includes a letter mailed under separate cover), and two were from National Weather Service (NWS) employees and have not been included in this analysis. After these consolidations and deletions, 39 email comments remain, all of which supported continuation of the WAP service. Five emergency managers, two commercial meteorologists, and one television broadcast meteorologist specifically identified their affiliation and cited the value of the service during hurricane season. Most commenters did not provide an affiliation. Eighteen comments included technical suggestions which are being evaluated; some regarding improvements in the existing WAP service, many suggesting additional WAP services. In addition to the 39 emails, the Director, NWS, received a letter from one commercial meteorology firm objecting to the service. The NWS response to that letter referred the letter itself to the TPC for inclusion in this analysis of comments on TPC's WAP products.



Summary of responses
Affiliation Supports
Continuation
Recommends
Termination
Includes
Suggestion(s)
Emergency Managers
(including Red Cross)
5    
Commercial Meteorologists 2 1  
Broadcasters 1    
Other / Unknown 31   18
TOTALS 39 1 18


E-Mail Responses

  1. (EM/Supports)

    As an Emergency Manager having this information literally in the palm of my hand is critical. During the hurricane season and especially when we are threatened, I speak with dozens of our political leaders. Now before each session I can double check to be sure that my information is current without returning to the office. Not to mention when my internet services are down I have a backup to access this information.

  2. (EM/Supports)

    (Note: Respondent sent in two comments counted as one combined response, and a separate letter.)

    I have sent you a letter concerning the WAP protocol on International Association of Emergency Managers Stationary. However I don't think the logo went with it. It explains my position. We need to keep any and all notifications available to us for the protection of property and the saving of lives. Max Mayfield and his staff are doing a wonderful job and should be commended for the load they bear.

    To all interested parties and agencies:

    I want to thank anyone and everyone with this great idea that will finally bring the so very important NHC/TPC advisories including discussions and other information out to the general public in a way that other means did not accomplish. To be able to bring NHC/TPC Tropical Cyclone text advisories, aircraft reconnaissance messages, and TAFB text forecasts and discussions to Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) capable cellphones and Portable Digital Assistants (PDA) is a big step in the right direction to fill the gap that emergency managers nation-wide struggle with in times of threat from the "Tropical Terrorist", the tropical cyclone.

    As someone that sees the need to be able to reach out with emergency information that can affect the general public, this service coming directly from the source is what I have struggled for many years. The citizens pay taxes to the federal government and expect something back in protection from disaster. This will become a great tool that can be used for just that purpose. It doesn't need to be driven for profit but for the common good of all. So many times in the past, private entities have cried foul whenever they feel that the government has stepped on their fingers as they reached for that dollar from the American public. In this case, it is clear indeed that in times such as a threat from tropical cyclones, when the National Tropical Prediction Center is issuing information that could save human lives and personal property, there is a need for one common voice to the public and that should come from the true experts, the forecasters and support staff of the National Hurricane Center. By using this tool to reach the threatened public, it is not doing anything out of the ordinary that the NOAA Weather Radio has done for years, but now it's reaching those out of ear shout of normal radio and TV.

    Thanks again for a job well done.

    This comment was also received by letter and is included as a separate document.

    (You may need to install the free Acrobat® Reader to view the PDF document.)

  3. (EM/Supports)

    Just discovered this capability. As an emergency manager for a coastal county, the assured availability of NHC products is vital to our mission. Mobile products will allow our staff greater flexible in performing their myriad duties without being tied to a desktop system for current tropical information. This service is certainly more cost effective for us as opposed other means such as XM satellite radio. We are all feeling budgetary pressures. I plan to take full advantage of this service. Thank you for being so customer oriented.

  4. (EM/Supports)

    I was manning the American Red Cross booth at the Florida Governor's Hurricane Conference in Tampa, FL and I was conversing with the NOAA folks about how much I love using the mobile tropical prediction center page on my cell phone. They informed me that it may no longer be published unless support like mine is heard.

    Please, keep this service active. To stay on top of weather alerts, I tend to use my cell phone a lot to receive emails, view web pages, and such when I'm not at my office or access to a computer and internet are limited.

    I thank you for all of the products that NOAA offers for free as it helps in our preparation efforts as well as helping to educate our community.

  5. (Commercial Met/Supports)

    I want to thank anyone and everyone with this great idea that will finally bring the so very important NHC/TPC advisories including discussions and other information out to the general public in a way that other means did not accomplish. To be able to bring NHC/TPC Tropical Cyclone text advisories, aircraft reconnaissance messages, and TAFB text forecasts and discussions to Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) capable cellphones and Portable Digital Assistants (PDA) is a big step in the right direction to fill the gap that emergency managers nation-wide struggle with in times of threat from the "Tropical Terrorist", the tropical cyclone.

    As someone that sees the need to be able to reach out with emergency information that can affect the general public, this service coming directly from the source is what I have struggled for many years. The citizens pay taxes to the federal government and expect something back in protection from disaster. This will become a great tool that can be used for just that purpose. It doesn't need to be driven for profit but for the common good of all. So many times in the past, private entities have cried foul whenever they feel that the government has stepped on their fingers as they reached for that dollar from the American public. In this case, it is clear indeed that in times such as a threat from tropical cyclones, when the National Tropical Prediction Center is issuing information that could save human lives and personal property, there is a need for one common voice to the public and that should come from the true experts, the forecasters and support staff of the National Hurricane Center. By using this tool to reach the threatened public, it is not doing anything out of the ordinary that the NOAA Weather Radio has done for years, but now it's reaching those out of ear shout of normal radio and TV.

    Thanks again for a job well done.

  6. (EM/Supports)

    I recently obtained a BlackBerry device which has a WAP browser. I find the WAP NHC product to be very usefull in my job as Emergency Coordinator for Navy-Mars Region one (MA,CT,RI,NH,ME,and VT).

  7. (Other/Supports)

    Just would like to let you know that I just recently purchased a cell phone that has the WAP capability and checked out your site on it and it is wonderful to have. I am on the go a lot and cannot always be behind a computer and this is perfect for me. Working in the public safety field

    I find this a very convenient way of getting the latest tropical information. Thanks for a great service.

  8. (Other/Supports/Suggestions)

    I have a Samsung A500 Phone on the Sprint PCS network. I have been viewing the NHC page on it for about the last 3 months. I find it helpful in keeping track of tropical storms since I live in New Orleans. Also, I am an engineer in the offshore oil industry and much of my work is in the Gulf of Mexico.

    In addition, I have a html browser installed on my phone and I am able to view the NHC web site along with color graphics. Since my screen size is only 1.8" in size, simple graphics are the most useful. Your storm track graphic is good, except I am not able to view the text. It would be helpful to keep the text simple and larger and keep the file size down to about 4K. At this size, I am able to enlarge the image somewhat and scroll around. A good example of graphics ideal for my phone is at the ccfp site, http:/cdm.aviationweather.gov/ccfp/

    I understand that the NHC has a service to send a warning message to a wireless phone but I have not been able to find out about it on your web site. My phone is short mail and email capable. Short mail gives me the an audible message when a new message arrives and would be most useful for this service.

  9. (Other/Supports/Suggestions)

    I am currently looking for a free WAP enabled weather radar site that I can use on Lake Erie to quickly see approaching storms. Please advise ASAP on information on such a site if you know of one. I think this capability along with marine weather statements over VHF/FM are a tremendous asset to the marine community. Thank you.

  10. (Other/Supports)

    I think it is absolutely excellent that you provide Hurricane information on a WAP web page. I access it regularly during times of Hurricane activity. There are times when a new advisory or update is available, but I can't get to a computer for a variety of reasons, the solution is to use my phone. I use Nextel as my wireless provider, and an embedded openwave browser on my phone.

    It seems, unlike HTML, that most sites do their best to hide WAP URLs, or don't provide them at all. It is absolutely terrific that you provide the information to all users, regardless of who their wireless carrier may be.

    Keep it up!

    Is it possible to get limited low res graphics with newer versions of the Openwave browser?

    Thanks for extremely useful information, and an alternative method of access. If there is any other more specific comments you were looking for, don't hesitate to reply.

  11. (Commercial met/Supports)

    I find the WAP products extremely useful. I don't really use them for work purposes, but I find them extremely valuable during my off-time!

  12. (Other/Supports)

    The WAP service is awesome. I didn't know it existed until just now. I logged on with my T-Mobile Motorola 720i. Great to have when I'm not near a computer with internet access. I work in Mobile, AL in the shipbuilding industry.

  13. (Other/Supports)

    You guys are AWESOME! Thanks much for all the work you do and for making this information available via wireless PDAs. It's reduced my stress a great deal.

    I live in Houston and own property in Galveston - I travel almost weekly and after 9/11 I stopped dragging my laptop with me. Since they're not very concerned about what might be brewing in the tropics in New York City, I rely on my Palm to deliver the news. Your site provides detailed, correct information that allows me to make decisions - as necessary.

    Here's hoping for another quiet year along the upper Texas coast!

    Keep up the great work.

  14. (Other/Supports)

    I recently found your wap page of tropical weather info and plan to use it frequently this coming hurricane season. As a boater who lives aboard and uses the waters daily this will be a valuable and convienent way to keep track of the weather situation while in coastal waters. Thank you very much for providing this service.

  15. (Other/Supports/Suggestion)

    First, I think the site is a great idea and it loads very nicely on my Samsung 8500.

    Since you are accepting comments though, I've noticed that neither the Tropical Weather Outlook nor the Tropical Weather Discussions have refreshed since the first time I viewed either page on 12 June and 14 June respectively. The home page does refresh, however.

  16. (Other/Supports/Suggestion)

    I just entered the URL in my phone (Motorola T720). Your site seems to work OK so far, some text wrap issues, but loads quickly. When there is an active storm, will I be able to see text only or some basic images like radar/satellite imagery?

  17. (Other/Supports/Suggestion)

    It's great that you are providing mobile access to the NHC site. One suggestion, maybe experiment with adding some graphics to the mobile site, especially a forecast track. Also, it would be great to receive forecasts automatically as a text message to a mobile phone.

    Thanks!

  18. (Other/Supports/Suggestion)

    I love WAP access to NHC products. Two comments; when I try to access the product from the menu page, I often get a browser message--unable to connect--and have to rerequest the product. My wireless provider says it is likely the site, not the network. Also, a lot of the WAP products are not updated--I tried to get today's 17:30 outlook statement this evening, & the page was only updated to 6/9 11:30.

  19. (Other/Supports/Suggestion)

    I have just tried your WAP site with my Handspring Treo (using T-Mobile Internet as my ISP) and found the response time very fast and the content sufficiently informative.

    First impression is that I will rely on this WAP site throughout the hurricane season - I am a west coast Florida resident and pay close attention to tropical weather patterns.

    Will there be graphic depictions of storm locations or will this be primarily a text-only site? Either way I think this is an excellent solution for WAP users.

    Thanks & regards

  20. (Other/Supports)

    Just wanted to send a short note saying that I really like the WAP website you set up. It keeps me informed while I'm on the go. Keep up the good work!

  21. (Other/Supports/Suggestion)

    Thanks.. a friend sent this to me and I'm still amazed... I can read discussion in depth.. can even get the link to recon, really amazing what you have done.

    Don't know if you have graphics and I haven't found them. Graphics meaning sats not logos.

    Anyway, my feed back is its amazing.. thanks.

    Have a Sony Ericsson and its a T 3 something.. I can't remember.

    Anyway, if you are going to put a link to sats in some form please let me know.

    Thanks... really thanks. Well.. not like you did it personally..did you? Are you responsible for setting it up or maintaining, just wondering.

    Also.. do you work out at FIU or on Virginia Key.. let me know please, I have a reason.

    Anyway... take care and be well and be happy, happy tracking... and I promise I don't ALWAYS sound so hyper.

  22. (Other/Supports/Suggestion)

    I have been using the WAP web service since last years hurricane season. I find it useful and easy to navigate. If you do change anything, I would like to see forecast maps, tracking maps, strike probabilities, ect. I know that these files would be large and WAP is usually charged by bytes, but you could place a link on the WAP site to view them if the user wants to. I would also be helpful if the site had the tracking history or keep the previous 24 hour coordinates since I am not in my office or at home it would be helpful if I can store the coordinates and plot them on a map at a later time. The information is usually pressure, winds and movement that I loose.

    Thanks

  23. (Other/Supports)

    Very nice, compact, to the point format. A very good way to get very important, up to date information while on the go.

  24. (Other/Supports)

    Hmmm, looks good to me :-)

    Can't think of anyway to improve it, except, perhaps, reduce the space between links on the home page. Tighten it up a little. If possible.

    Cheers

  25. (Other/Supports)

    I am accessing the WAP site from a nextel handset. Works great. Page breaks in the discussion sections are a little awkward, but I can't imagine any better way to accomplish this. A great, clean, easy-to-navigate site. I'm very glad you have it!

    Thanks

  26. (Other/Supports)

    As a user of the WAP version of the NHC web site i can safely say i am very happy with the service. It is very useful when i am away from the PC, but need to keep up to date with whats going on in the Atlantic. I do think that the WAP site should be better advertised on the internet

    version of the NHC site though, so as to attract more users to its presence.

  27. (Broadcaster/Supports)

    I just discovered the WAP versions of the TPC homepage. I didn't know this option was available until I saw your request for feedback. I had already bookmarked the individual graphic images, which are small on my Treo PDA. But in a pinch they're better than nothing. I hope the WAP version of the homepage is a permanent feature.

  28. (Other/Supports/Suggestion)

    It is useful that you are bringing storm information to the wireless phones.

    Most lay-people tracking storms are only interested in the direction and wind velocity. Any manner in which that can be displayed in a concise manner on a wap phone will get wide acceptance.

    Let me make three suggestions.

    1. For each storm on the home page, append the current direction and velocity to the storm name e.g. TROPICAL DEPRESSION ANDRES (WNW-16KNOTS). This will save having to follow the link in order to get this key information.

    2. For each storm on the home page add a link to a table of predicted wind velocity for the next 72 hours. The data can be taken from the 'wind speed forecast' chart. For example:

    NOW  - 16KT
    12HR - 23KT
    24HR - 35KT
    36HR - 37KT
    48HR - 40KT
    72HR - 35KT
    

    3. Finally (the real winner) for each storm on the home page, a link to a WBMP graphic page showing a crude map of the disturbance area and the track of the storm. I realize that there are severe limitations on what can be done with wap graphics, however most people using this system will most likely be familiar with the track of the storm already (TV and Internet) and are interested in some visual feedback to determine if the track of the storm is turning in their direction. As such, even the simplest of graph (a single track line with labeled time dots) would be extremely useful.

    Again, thanks for creating this service and thanks for asking for feedback.

    Regards

  29. (Other/Supports)

    Your site asked for feedback on the wireless acess you guys offer. I have only been using it since you began issuing the Pacific outlooks a few weeks ago, but I have found it very handy. I have a sony/ericson GSM phone on the att network and it works great. I find this service very helpful.

  30. (Other/Supports/Suggestion)

    Yes, there are some of us that use it. I usually access it from my cell phone. I live in Tampa. On my pda, I usually access the full version because I can display the sat. maps, etc nicely. Wish the main page was better formatted for PocketPC’s tho.

  31. (Other/Supports)

    I have used your WAP page for hurricane information periodically over the past year and have found it to be very useful. All the products have been updated and presented clearly. My phone is one of the older first-generation text browsing phones and may not format pages as nicely as a newer one. Please keep providing this service if possible!

  32. (Other/Supports/Suggestion)

    It a very useful site for tracking tropical storms anywhere. I recommend some improvement in graphics. Pcs vision enabled phones can display full color graphics.

    Thanks.

  33. (Other/Supports/Suggestion)

    I just got a WAP cellphone and use iwindsurf.com now and will try out your service as well. Hope I can get the bouy reports I'm looking for...

    Best

  34. (Other/Supports/Suggestion)

    Hello. I'm just a storm tracker here is South Florida. Not a boat captain or construction forman. I use a Sprint pda/cell phone to access The National Hurricane Center (TPC... whatever) web site. When I do this, I have to advance 4 pages (cell phone pages) just to get to the part under "Active Tropical Systems" that says

    Atlantic & Carribbean

    Then after clicking on the link of an active storm below it, the first cell phone page of that storm's data is a bunch of re-direct links. Then page two usually begins the data. I can't remember EXACTLY how the links are on your home page right now because I haven't seen an active storm in 6 months. But the point is, I have to do too much "Next Page" clicking on my pda to get to the storm data. And after each "Next Page" click on a cell phone, as you may know, the phone Connects, sends, and then recieves a new stream of data from the cell phone network. That usually takes anywhere from 5 to 15 seconds.

    Most users would probably like a quick link to "Public Advisory" products for particular active storms. So maybe you can put a small-font set of links at the very top of the html for the "Text Only" home page. Might look like this...


    Latest Public Advisory TD#5
    Latest Public Advisory Claudette
    Latest Public Advisory Danny


    But it would have to be the very first line of html... before any other links or text on the Text Only home page. Also, the html page that is linked to any of the example links above, CAN'T have any re-direct links (a menu) at the top of the html. So for example, the web page that's linked to the link above for TD#5, has to start immediately at the top with the Public Adv data with no links above it. Any links can go AFTER the Advisory.

    By the way, the addy I use in my cell phone/pda is... http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/?text

    Well, that's my 2 cents. Peace!

  35. (Other/Supports)

    I have just bookmarked this on my cell phone. With the upcoming season, and being part of my county's emergency response team, this will come in handy at times. It's a nice WAP site, I've seen a lot worse. Thanks,

  36. (Other/Supports/Suggestion)

    So far so good. TWDAT is nice but can the header be reduce any? I have a Samsung SPH-N400 phone on Sprint and the header takes up almost the whole first page. Instead of:

    000
    AXNT20 KNHC 301739
    TWDAT
    
    TROPICAL WEATHER DISCUSSION
    NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
    205 PM EDT FRI 30 MAY 2003
    
    TROPICAL WEATHER DISCUSSION FOR NORTH AMERICA...CENTRAL
    AMERICA...GULF OF MEXICO...CARIBBEAN SEA...AND ATLANTIC OCEAN
    TO THE AFRICAN COAST FROM THE EQUATOR TO 32N INCLUDING NORTHERN
    SECTIONS OF SOUTH AMERICA. THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS BASED
    ON SATELLITE IMAGERY...WEATHER OBSERVATIONS...RADAR...AND
    METEOROLOGICAL ANALYSIS.
    
    BASED ON 1200 UTC SURFACE ANALYSIS AND SATELLITE IMAGERY THROUGH
    1715 UTC.
    

    000
    AXNT20 KNHC 301739
    TWDAT
    1605Z 300503
    BASED ON 1200Z SASI THRU 1715Z
    
    SPECIAL FEATURES.. NONE
    

    How about something short and sweet like the above? That would save me about 5 minutes a day at least. When there is nothing special that is all I need, If I see TWDAT I know the rest. If the is a problem put a link in for the expanded header.

  37. (Other/Supports/Suggestion)

    Text only is boring..... :) If I wanted text I'd have gotten a Palm.... :)

    Actually, with Netfront 3.0 on my iPaq, it isn't bad. I finally got the data cable for my iPaq to interface with the phone. Gotta use up some of those unlimited data access on my Sprint Phone. I'll probably view the pages on there more often than not. As a network engineer for Citibank, we use your site as a "guide" of whether we need to consider COB mode and as an indicator when we need/if we need to start flipping servers to our "Cat 5 (in a flood zone) site..."

    Is there any specific feedback you were looking for?

    I personally wish the updates were more often than the schedule you currently have. What was it last year? Every 4? 6? Hours? But hey, I understand manpower issues as well as anyone.

    Did you get a lot of feedback from that posting on the site, or was I the only one to respond???? :)

  38. (Other/Supports/Suggestion)

    (Note: Respondent sent in three comments, initially identifying a minor problem in the mobile pages. All replies are counted as one combined response.)

    I just entered your URL on my Sanyo 8100 (using the Sprint Vision network) with the NetForce 3.0 browser and the page came up fine. Some sites are problematic with this browser - for example MSN mobile. Reviewed the Atlantic forecast, reads OK. East Pacific forecast actually split nicely into 2 pages.

    The link to TAFB text Products came up _not found_ - looks like a short link to /wap/index_tafb.wml - perhaps it needs to be fully qualified. Similarly for the Aircraft Reconnaissance page. if these are blank pages then a dummy page might be better than the page not found error message.

    Looking forward to the start of the new season this weekend.

    How about sending specific alerts to phones? I realize that you would need some sort of registration process to do it.

    Regards.

    No problem. You guys keep making great improvements to the site year over year and I am pleased to be able to help out a little.

    Regards,

    Todd,
    OK - you fixed it! All the links off the TAFB page work OK - some have as many as 5 splits but I did not follow each one. RECON works too but the TODAY link was NOT FOUND. TOMORROW was OK (but displayed MAR. 23 data). Other links seemed OK. Site seems quick - not too many people there right now I suppose.

    The NOAA logo in color would be nice - and a storm track graphic or sat picture capability would too. There are lots of color screens out there now - so graphics are possible. I guess you are trying to provide a reasonable download time though. Just in case you don't know - sprintusers.com has some pretty good forums for Sprint Vision customers. There are quite a few developers and Sprint techies there so if you had a particular question about or problem with the Vision network it would be a good place to go.

  39. (Other/Supports/Suggestion)

    I think the WAP access is quite marginal in usefulness, mostly because the WAP interface on most phones is so amazingly difficult to use. I spent an hour with my phone and finally got it to give me the standard hurricane text message. I can't image that a busy local sheriff or other official who needed the information would bother with such difficult process. It might be much better to just send short text messages to the phones of those who need to know. This is reliable and usually easy to use on most phones. One could imagine that anybody who needed to get the text messages would email to a server and the messages would automatically be sent. I think this would work much better.


Please refer all questions and comments to the TPC Office of Public Relations:

Mr. Frank Lepore
NOAA Public Affairs Officer
National Hurricane Center
Tropical Prediction Center
Frank.C.Lepore@noaa.gov
(305) 229-4404


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Page last modified: Monday, 07-Feb-2005 16:55:19 UTC