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

Gerry Creager N5JXS gerry.creager at tamu.edu
Thu Nov 10 06:31:21 CST 2005

The model of selling meteorological information has been tried, 
extensively, in Europe.  The current move to to allow the various 
governmental met. agencies to provide data for free, recognizing that 
they never succeeded in achieving cost recovery, and continuing to let 
the private sector provide value-added information for fee.

Santorum's office would have you believe that's the intent here, but 
that's not the language of the bill.  The pros at the administration 
level of NWS know politics well enough to be very careful and to not 
aggrevate the politicians, lest the Commerse, and specifically NOAA and 
NWS budgets suffer for cause, instead of just because they're not 
recognized for the benefit they bring the country.

At this time, the Level II radar data is provided to the private sector 
through three university partnerships with NWS, on a cost-recovery 
basis, while it's further provided to the university community, and some 
weather enthusiasts, for free.  I know of several hams and their 
organizations who receive it this way.  The university entities, 
Integrated Radar Services at the University of Oklahoma, Purdue 
University, and the Education and Research Consortium of the Western 
Carolinas, charge real money but provide real staff, 24x7 monitoring and 
service, and have real facilities, to make sure the private sector folks 
get the Level II data in a (very) timely fashion, at no cost the NWS. 
NWS derives benefit by A) making sure the data are available to the 
private "partners" with low latency through the agreements, and B) by 
having the data transmitted with low latency and pretty high reliability 
to NWS HQ and the National Climatic Data Center.

So there you have cost-recovery... but it's not NW recovering costs for 
acquiring and transmitting the radar data, it's for the university 
partners to cover the extra costs they incurred makign those data 
available to the private sector, who then massage the data to varying 
degrees, and sell it to TV, radio, and the public for internet consumption.

Low cost to the private sector's working, already.


KC2MMi wrote:
> Ray-
>  When you ask "why would"...maybe you don't recall that nautical charts and
> charting information were a very similar subject. A number of agencies have
> merged and renamed since then, but essentially the cartographers at NOAA and all
> wanted to create new digital charts and provide them essentially free to the
> public, in the same way nautical charts and topos were provided at very low
> cost. (Way less than they cost to make, if you factor everything in.) Then Mr.
> Reagan decreed that all agencies should instead adopt private commercial
> development partners, and digital charts were privatized. What is now Maptech
> put up the money--privately--to fund the work. And retained the exclusive
> private rights to SELL the resulting digital data.
>  This sounds like a similar work in progress, where NWS would or could be
> allowed to provide only the free emergency warnings, and at the discretion of
> the leadership--or further political mandates--they could be required to recover
> their operating costs by SELLING all data instead of giving it away. Another
> Senator trying to make a name for himself by making all the "freeloaders" out
> here in the world pay for the NWS, instead of forcing the federal budget to pay
> for the common good.
> What the pros at NWS do or don't want to do, doesn't matter. This is Politics,
> and they are just civil servants. They don't get to decide how it will be done.
> The bill is unclear about motivation and intents, but from the text is can very
> obviously follow the very costly precedents that have already been set, fo rthe
> purpose of reducing the federal budget. And you KNOW the voters will love "less
> taxes" promises and screw the consequences of that. They do it every time, so
> this should be a popular bill.
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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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