The Bureau of Meteorology’s mobile weather website, launched on May 27, puts Australia’s most accurate and authoritative weather intelligence directly into the hands of every smartphone user. Using GPS tracking, the site provides up-to-the-minute forecasts for users’ immediate locations: the temperature, wind and chance of rain at different times of the day, together with a detailed picture of the coming week’s weather. Designed to provide at-a-glance weather information for practical decision-making, the site draws upon the Bureau’s Next Generation Forecast and Warning System, which covers the country with a forecasting grid capable of delivering high-resolution forecasts for every 6km² area.
Bureau of Meteorology
Creative: Bureau of Meteorology and Reactive Media
User Testing: U1 Group
Digital Development: Bureau of Meteorology
The Bureau of Meteorology’s new mobile weather website enables Australians everywhere to access the most reliable and pinpoint-accurate local weather forecasts, wherever they are in the country. By customising the Bureau’s renowned website for small screens, the mobile site has made Australia’s most informed and trusted forecasts –accessible to anyone, through their smartphone, tablet or laptop computer.
The simple, user-friendly site has been specifically designed to assist in quick and practical decision-making – providing a range of key data on rainfall, temperature, wind and humidity at three-hour intervals through the day, as well as a complete picture of the weather over the coming seven days. Users receive the very latest data available for their location, updated every 15 minutes from the nearest of 700 weather stations, and triangulated with the Bureau’s unparalleled network of radar and weather satellite services.
Like its parent site, the mobile weather website is based on data delivered by the Bureau’s Next Generation Forecast and Warning System (‘NexGen’) – a $30 million, state-of-the-art forecasting system that enables forecasters to fine-tune forecasts according to local knowledge and evolving conditions for grid squares as small as 6km².
The Bureau’s mobile website set out to answer a specific need for up-to-date hyper-local weather information to assist people with their daily planning, coupled with a surge of mobile visitors to the Bureau’s online services. These trends have inspired the design of a multi-platform mobile website that makes it quicker, easier and more practical to access Australia’s most trusted weather information through any hand-held computer or device.
The mobile site benefits from some of the most precise weather-monitoring technology in the world, delivered through the Bureau’s ‘NexGen’ system – a high-resolution system that captures specific weather elements on a national database and enables the Bureau’s forecasters to generate local forecasts according to detailed meteorological and topographical conditions. By monitoring the progress of specific weather elements on 6km² grid areas countrywide, NexGen delivers more uniform data across urban and rural locations – enabling forecasters to more accurately review and enhance local-level forecasts.
The Bureau’s mobile site is the only mobile weather service in Australia that provides this level of monitoring and analytical detail. Using GPS, the site locates the user and provides a comprehensive weather reading for their current 6km² grid square. This may be slightly different to their friend, who is only kilometres away but within another 6km² grid square. As well as their immediate location, mobile users can pre-set three favourite locations to give them instant access to the latest weather data in three separate locations across the country – or along a planned travel route.
The mobile weather website was designed following intensive market research to identify the weather information needs and habits of the public and specific industry groups. These surveys identified a strong need for a simple, user-friendly site that would not only provide the most critical weather elements sought by Australians, but would serve as a technical foundation for a fully integrated digital mobile channel.
Initially, the mobile site was released for observed moderated user testing on a pool of public and industry respondents to ensure the proposed user experience met their needs. At a glance, users can see the current temperature and apparent temperature (what it “feels like”), the wind and humidity levels, and the chance of rain at three-hour intervals through the day. As well as the day’s forecast and the overnight low, they can scroll down to see a full picture – in quick-check icons and detailed data – of the daily weather for the next seven days.
In addition, the site provides a direct link to the Bureau’s popular rain radar, which enables users to see if rain is coming their way, and a full picture of weather warnings for every state. And at any time, users can switch to the Bureau’s full website for more detailed information on any of the weather phenomena listed.
Before and after the release of the mobile weather website, the Bureau launched an integrated marketing strategy to raise awareness of the new site, and to inform its growing customer base of its different features and ways to put them to practical use. As well as advising current Bureau users of individual facets and uses of the new service, the strategy also targets specific user groups – such as the transport, real estate, and outdoor events industries – who may not use the Bureau website, but actively rely on mobile weather services.
The launch of the mobile site was accompanied by a number of media releases, including an official release from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment, a Bureau service announcement, and detailed briefings for all frontline and general staff who may be recipients of public enquiries. A number of information resources, including factsheets and FAQs, were developed for public users, industries and media contacts, together with an online video on the site’s use (http://www.bom.gov.au/campaign/mobilewebsite/).
Regular Bureau visitors have been proactively targeted through a range of integrated promotions, including advertisements on the Bureau’s home page, articles on its social media blog (http://media.bom.gov.au/social/), and a number of posts on the agency’s busy Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/bureauofmeteorology), which has over 487,000 followers. The Facebook posts alone were seen by more than 1.5 million people.
As a Bureau service, the mobile website complies with all of the requirements for online security and user privacy stipulated under these pieces of legislation. Basic site visit data may be recorded for the purposes of performance optimisation, but this data is anonymous and relates only to the browsers and servers involved, the pages accessed, and the dates and times of user visits. Visitors to the site are not personally identified, and all visitor data is strictly protected under the stipulations of the Privacy Act.
This category relates to applications themed around informing users on the weather. It includes general weather applications as well as specifics such as surf/snow reports and tools such barometers.