AGU 2014 Presentation: A Photo Storm Report Mobile Application, Processing/Distribution System, and AWIPS-II Display Concept

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The increasing use of mobile phones equipped with digital cameras and the ability to post images and information to the Internet in real-time has significantly improved the ability to report events almost instantaneously. In the context of severe weather reports, a representative digital image conveys significantly more information than a simple text or phone relayed report to a weather forecaster issuing severe weather warnings. It also allows the forecaster to reasonably discern the validity and quality of a storm report. Posting geo-located, time stamped storm report photographs utilizing a mobile phone application to NWS social media weather forecast office pages has generated recent positive feedback from forecasters. Building upon this feedback, this discussion advances the concept, development, and implementation of a formalized Photo Storm Report (PSR) mobile application, processing and distribution system and Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System II (AWIPS-II) plug-in display software.
The PSR system would be composed of three core components: i) a mobile phone application, ii) a processing and distribution software and hardware system, and iii) AWIPS-II data, exchange and visualization plug-in software. i) The mobile phone application would allow web-registered users to send geo-location, view direction, and time stamped PSRs along with severe weather type and comments to the processing and distribution servers. ii) The servers would receive PSRs, convert images and information to NWS network bandwidth manageable sizes in an AWIPS-II data format, distribute them on the NWS data communications network, and archive the original PSRs for possible future research datasets. iii) The AWIPS-II data and exchange plug-ins would archive PSRs, and the visualization plug-in would display PSR locations, times and directions by hour, similar to surface observations. Hovering on individual PSRs would reveal photo thumbnails and clicking on them would display the full resolution photograph.

Here, we present initial NWS forecaster feedback received from social media posted PSRs, motivating the possible advantages of PSRs within AWIPS-II, the details of developing and implementing a PSR system, and possible future applications beyond severe weather reports and AWIPS-II.