Easily understand the weather condition of your area, how better to know through these apps
Know the weather condition through apps
New Delhi : When cyclones ‘Taukete’ and ‘Yas’ made landfall in the western and eastern coastal states earlier this year, many people, including those not living in the path of the two cyclones, shared a screenshot of either Which was seen showing strong wind currents on windy.com app. The easy-to-understand imagery almost made it viral on WhatsApp and young or old alike, people were in awe and trembling at the intensity of the cyclone. Smartphones have indeed changed the lives of many people, but it is the weather apps that are really making a difference in people’s lives.
A number of weather related mobile applications (apps in common parlance) are in use, some of them from the government and some from private companies. List of some of the most common apps- India Meteorological Department (IMD) ‘Mausam’ (general weather information app), ‘Damini’ (for lightning alerts) and ‘Meghdoot’ (for farmers); Skymet Weather, Mumbai Rain and Kerala Rain; Accuweather, YahooWeather, ‘IndiaWeather’, ‘WeatherBug’, ‘RainAlarm’ and BBC’s ‘BBC Weather’ and then some are from the state government which includes Maharashtra’s ‘Mahavedha’ and Tamil Nadu’s ‘N Smart’ app.
Almost all the information available on these apps is valuable and much more related to it is available on the websites. But with the proliferation of smart phones not only in urban areas but also in peri-urban areas, the use of apps has increased. Unfortunately, most of the government apps neglect aesthetics even when they are rich in data. Aesthetics is a very important component in the success of websites/apps in today’s world.
K Srikanth, a personal blogger who runs a website and an app ‘ChennaiRens’, told IANS that ideally, an app should have enough bandwidth and rich data from multiple sources and should be something that is presented for easy understanding. Ho. Smartphone users today are interested or seeing how they can access a certain amount of information as quickly as possible. They are not interested in too much unwanted information while searching for what they want. Smart phone users like nothing more than a few clicks. IMD apps add more clutter.
Srikanth and his team take data from IMD – radar, satellite images and model data. But, they claim there is a difference in the way they render radar images and the way the IMD does it. He says that our All India Radar Images Section is a mosaic of all radar images from IMD’s own radar images. Which is very easy to understand, it has been mounted on Google Maps so that people can relate to it in a better way. But, this feature is not available in IMD’s app though IMD’s website is there.
Chennai Rains had its first app in 2015 and has come up with improved versions from time to time. He pointed out that there is a need to make it so easy to disseminate information on apps, it should aim at, if it can be called so, the lowest common denominator users. (and) therefore, having a good website does not guarantee that an app by the same owner will be good.
He says mobile apps are an entirely different ball game. It’s not just copying a website into an app. The problem with IMD is that its apps are not built as mobile apps but as the mobile version of the website. This is the reason why IMD’s mobile apps are not aesthetically appealing.
Another example is a private app called ‘WeatherBug’ which takes data from the network and gives lightning warnings. IMD has its own electrical sensors which feed the ‘Damini’ app. But if one looks at the two apps, one realizes the generational difference in terms of how the presentation is done.
The biggest advantage of smartphones is that the content happens in minutes, unlike the old times when alerts used to come only two or three times a day. The user of the smartphone wants customized information and not something generic, for example, a state will rain.
Skymet, a major private player, has a notification system to give rain or lightning warnings anywhere from 10 minutes to sometimes up to an hour in advance. It has its own 6500-off weather stations across India. It provides rainfall forecasts, hourly, and nowcast (helps people know what is going to happen in the next one to three hours) based on Skymet’s own instrumentation across the country.
But, with what Skymet has, Jatin Singh, Founder and Director, Skymet said, “We have maps, news, videos and other visual content like radar imaging etc. ‘Mumbai Rains’ also has high-resolution satellite images.” Huh.
Admitting that their website is more popular than the ‘Skymet Weather’ app, Jatin Singh of Skymet told IANS, ‘Damini’ is a good app, but lacks the provision to search for warnings by location. For example, sitting in Delhi, one should be able to find a place in Bihar.
Verma said space and content are important, but presentation matters. Stating that visualization should be aesthetically based for easy assimilation, it should be in the language of common people, Col Sanjay Verma, Chairman, Climate Resilient Observing Systems Promotion Council (CROPC) gave the example of ‘TN Smart’, not only Pushed the alert, there is a popup message, but it also has an IVR (Voice Alert). In some cases a minute or two of warning is enough time to avoid disaster. Two other apps that have a very robust alarm system are ‘Weather Bug’ and ‘Rain Alarm’, both based on radar output.
CROPC is running a ‘Lightning Resilient India Campaign’ jointly with IMD. Verma explained how the already versatile Damini app could incorporate changes to further refine the output. He added that there is a need for a combination of Doppler Weather Radar (DWR) and Short-Range X-band Radar fitted with HF (High Frequency) detectors and Electric Field Meter, the forecast will be better refined and all parameters will be covered.
This is why user interface testing/development is also a very important component in the overall software development cycle. For example, Rahul Patil, who runs a campaign in Marathi for farmers in Maharashtra, said, “As mentioned in the beginning, Windy is the best example for presentation. The majority of apps are based on where the user is present. And most of these apps are complicated for the end-user.But I think Windy gives a very simple graphical representation.
IMD warns GMHAS – Global Multi-Hazard Alert System, through which anyone can access it. IMD’s website also has an RSS/API feed, which can be accessed by any individual user. In addition, IMD has collaborated with Google to broadcast IMD-generated warnings in its apps and similarly with Apple.
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