SmartMet, SmartAlert, Better Informed Communities

With the advancement of modern technology, our lives are changing in many areas, including the roles of the Meteorological Services. While some things remain the same, in other areas huge steps are being made in improving forecasting for early warning systems and for long term projections based on ICT.

This week in Samoa, training is underway for the Met Services of Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Vanuatu who now deploy the SmartMet and SmartAlert Weather systems to help improve weather and climate forecasts and warnings.

Funded under the Finnish-Pacific Project, a partnership funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and implemented in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI), this has helped the Met Services incorporate new and different, modern technology in their work. SmartMet allows Met Services to efficiently combine numerous weather models and observations into a single platform, and generate a forecast for a specific region.

SmartAlert takes the weather forecast produced by SmartMet and sends updates the various ICT communication (eg SMS, Smartphones, email listing, websites etc) modes to end-users to support decision making and planning activities.

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Participants of the SmartMET and SmartAlert training at the SPREP campus. Photo: SPREP

"This training could not have come at a better time. Given what the region has just gone through with a Category 5 cyclone affecting Vanuatu and New Caledonia; and Category 3 cyclone affecting Samoa, Wallis and Futuna which both developed outside of the official tropical cyclone season which is from November to April," presented Dr Netatua Pelesikoti, the Director of Climate Change Division of SPREP.

The 5 day training currently underway at the SPREP Campus in Samoa is helping to achieve this, providing the support for the Met Services to achieve the full benefits that SmartMet and SmartAlert can provide. The training is in its third year, and has established an online community for Met Officers using these systems to support each other, which is further strengthened by bringing them together once a year.

"Take in as much as possible from this week's training workshop and share your gained knowledge and skills with other colleagues at home so that SmartMet and SmartAlert systems are sustained and continue to benefit local communities," said Dr Netatua Pelesikoti, Director of Climate Change Division.

Mr Leonard Bale, Fiji Meteorological Services, commented that this is the first time he has attended a training that brought together forecasters and IT specialists from across the region, and it is an excellent initiative that should be supported and promoted.

The training is facilitated in partnership by the PacificMet Desk staff of SPREP and the SPREP IT unit. It will end on Friday with a roadmap developed for future support by and for the Met Services for SmartMet and SmartAlert.

FINPAC aims to reduce vulnerability of the Pacific Island Country villagers' livelihoods to the effects of Climate Change through strengthening the Met Services of the Pacific region. It is a 4-year project funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland through a grant to the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI). The project commenced in January 2013.
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