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Bureau goes to market for components of $30.5 m NextGen weather forecasting system

by David Shi •
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The full implementation of the Bureau of Meteorology’s (BoM) $30.5 million Next Generation Forecast and Warning System is set to continue until 2014 and in the coming months the agency will approach the market to procure several significant components for the system.

The Bureau is currently seeking a provider for an Integrated Data Visualisation (IDV) system for the NextGen System, and according to procurement plans it will also be seeking providers for an as yet unspecified ‘Next Generation Project’ in quarter 4 2010-11.

In Intermedium’s latest Federal Market Overview Report, the BoM emerged as the 13th most prolific procurer of ICT in the Federal Government, with an ICT contract total of $55 million in 2009-10.

In the Commonwealth Government’s 2009-10 Budget the project was allocated $30.5 million over five years. The project intends to establish efficient and enhanced weather forecasting service which builds upon existing technology used by the US National Weather Service.  

Utilising the Graphical Forecast Editor (GFE) system, the NexGenFWS will replace the current out-dated forecasting infrastructure which, according to the BoM, has undergone only minimal changes since the 1950s.

Upon complete nation-wide rollout, the NexGen system will provide seven day forecasts for 650 locations with increased accuracy and improved responsiveness to the public and emergency services during natural disaster emergencies.

The BoM’s Operational Plan 2008-12 identified the NexGenFWS as one of the Bureau’s Innovation Fronts.

The increased efficiency delivered by the NexGen system will also offer detailed weather services for regional communities that were previously only available for capital cities. The system also allows internet users to access visual and interactive information via the BoM website.

In December 2009 the then Environment Minister Peter Garrett launched a pilot run of the system which would take place across Victoria.

 “This is a major step forward for the Bureau of Meteorology's web site that will immediately benefit Victorians and ultimately improve web-based forecast services for all parts of Australia,” said Garrett. 

As part of the ongoing development of the NexGenFWS, the BoM has released a request for tender for an Integrated Data Visualisation (IDV) system.

The IDV project aims to replace all current forecaster visualisation tools, creating a single integrated software solution for the BoM’s operational forecasters.

The software will be used to view prediction models, satellite imagery, radar data and surface-based observations from multiple sources.

“The forecaster uses weather data from many sources to form an abstract mental picture of the weather system and the visualisation system should maintain a consistent interface to this data,” says the tender documents.

The request for tender clarifies that the resulting system will not require a public interface.

 “The IDV is wholly intended for internal Bureau use and the project will not levy this requirement on a vendor,” says the document.

The NexGen system became operational in New South Wales in September 2010 and is expected to go live in Tasmania by June 2011. The full rollout of the NexGen system is expected to be completed by 2014.

Tender applications for the IDV system are due by 27 April 2011.


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