[aprssig] National Weather Services Duties Act (S. 786 )

Gerry Creager N5JXS gerry.creager at tamu.edu
Tue Nov 8 08:42:42 CST 2005

A couple of thoughts on this bill.

1.  Yes, it could happen.  For years, Santorum has claimed the public 
should get its weather from Accuweather, a major constituent in his state.
2.  What Accuweather, and to some extent the remainder of the private 
sector weather folk, want is for the NWS to continue to collect data as 
they always have, but give it to the private firms as they do now.  The 
private firms would distill it and add value and sell it to their 
customers, TV and radio stations, webs sites, national news services, 
etc., who could then make bts and pieces available to the public.
3.  No provision is made to provide these data to public service 
organizations (APRS) or universities.
4.  Airplanes would, of course, get their weather via DUATS or Flight 
Service, or they could buy their weather data from the private sector.
5.  Ships would get their weather from private weather services.
6.  Explicit in the language of the bill, NWS wouldn't do forecasts save 
for severe or extreme weather.

I'm not going to spend the time to dismantle this bill right now, as the 
listserver will likely gripe anyway, but the proposed legislation is 
wrong and broken on many levels.  Not even all the private weather firms 
support this bill or its language.

NWS began offering these services widely only recently and at relatively 
little cost, as the Internet became cheap to leverage.  The private 
sector, most vocally Accuweather, sees this as a a violation of an NWS 
policy of non-competetion that goes back some 20 years, and Accuweather 
doesn't want to have to compete against a larger, better funded, 
public-guided organization, so they're griping.  They want NWS to 
continue to provide them all the data they need to do their business. 
They'd even be willing to pay some element of cost-recovery... but they 
want to define what a fair cost-recovery number is, not NWS... but they 
don't want NWS to leverage the Web, or RSS, or e-mail, or WAP, or any of 
the other technologies that NWS has been bringing forward, which have 
often been initiated on the part of an individual in a Weather Field 
Office or Region Headquarters, on their own initiative, and embraced 
once the bugs have been worked out, on someone's own time.  Read, 
minimal NWS R&D, which, for a cash-strapped agency is important.

Virtually all the arguments in S.786 are specious, and unsupportable. 
It's bad legislation.

Let your senators know what you think.  Let your representatives know, 
too.  I hope this thing doesn't get out of committee.

Patrick Green wrote:
> That's how our government works.  I've seen them take brand new services 
> that costed millions to setup and completely shut them down on a whim 
> with no regard.  This would be no different.  Setting aside the 
> arguments the importance of the data, I would be worried that our 
> government could remove this access without regard to how much effort 
> they spent on it leading up to this point.
> 73 de Pat --- KA9SCF
> On 11/8/05, *Ray McKnight* <shortsheep at worldnet.att.net 
> <mailto:shortsheep at worldnet.att.net>> wrote:
>      >This bill, if enacted will affect and prohibit access to NWS data
>      >products to marine, aviation and most importantly to the APRS
>     community,
>      >the ability to access NWS data used by a large number of Hams and
>     other
>      >weather enthusiasts.
>     I'm sorry, well, actually NOT, as I don't feel APRS or Hams are
>     the "most important freeloaders" of NWS data.  Obviously you feel
>     private vessels at sea and aircraft are less deserving of NWS data
>     than mere weather "enthusiasts" (whom BTW don't even care enough
>     to adopt the current measurement and reporting standards of NWS/
>     WMO).
>     But I think your entire reactionary post is absurd, as the NWS certainly
>     isn't going to pull access out from under us, it's just like the
>     numerous
>     other recent posts based on incorrect and hysterical interpretations of
>     proposed legislation which has nothing to do with preventing access by
>     private citizens.  Why would they make is so EASY in the last few years
>     to GAIN ACCESS to previously limited data sets like radar and GRID'd
>     data if they now change course 180 deg without warning???
>     ----- Original Message -----
>     From: <rw at w7rsw.com <mailto:rw at w7rsw.com>>
>     To: <aprssig at lists.tapr.org <mailto:aprssig at lists.tapr.org>>
>     Sent: Tuesday, November 08, 2005 02:45
>     Subject: [aprssig] National Weather Services Duties Act (S. 786 )
>      > I'd like to bring attention to a Senate Bill currently in
>     committee that
>      > will alter and if enacted, eliminate private citizen access to the
>      > National Weather Service (NWS) data while giving exclusive access to
>      > For-Profit entities such as AccuWeather and other commercial
>     entities.
>      >
>      > This bill, if enacted will affect and prohibit access to NWS data
>      > products to marine, aviation and most importantly to the APRS
>     community,
>      > the ability to access NWS data used by a large number of Hams and
>     other
>      > weather enthusiasts. Should this Senate Bill 786 be enacted, anyone
>      > wishing to gather information that has been historically been
>     available
>      >   to citizens free of charge, (after all, WE have paid for it!) will
>      > only be available from For-Profit organizations for a fee.
Gerry Creager -- gerry.creager at tamu.edu
Texas Mesonet -- AATLT, Texas A&M University	
Cell: 979.229.5301 Office: 979.458.4020 FAX: 979.847.8578
Page: 979.228.0173
Office: 903A Eller Bldg, TAMU, College Station, TX 77843

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