Pre-budget cash splash gives $8m boost for ‘little hero’ eConnected digital data service
WA’s 187 automated weather stations will continue to provide important, real-time weather data for farmers across the State thanks to an $8.1 million boost.
The State Government is investing more than $8 million into the eConnected digital data service, which provides weather information and digital tools online.
The platform, run through the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development website, supports a range of decision aids, including the available soil water tool, rainfall-to-date graphs, a map showing extreme weather events, and a potential yield calculator.
The platform also underpins the department’s free online weather pages, which capture real time temperature, wind, rainfall and humidity data to help farm businesses with spraying, harvesting and livestock management activities, as well as emergency service responses.
More than 92.2 million data requests were made through the platform last year — more than double the amount in 2018 — while 11,000 people visited the DPIRD weather website every month last year.
Last week’s announcement marked the second pre-budget cash splash announcement by WA Labor after it revealed $8.3 to continue the Northern Beef Futures project in June.
WA Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the $8.1 million would maintain the network of automated weather stations in WA.
Part of the money will also will be used to upgrade the stations from 3G to 4G, as well as securing the program’s digital platform.
The platform provides State departments and commercial app and software developers with access to data from the automated weather stations.
That information is then able to be used to develop a range of online tools, models, programs and decision-making aids — including weather apps.
Ms MacTiernan said digital data and real-time weather information was a crucial component of modern agribusiness. She said emergency services used the resources to improve responses to fire, storms and sea rescues.
“The eConnected project ensures farmers have access to the data they need to remain competitive in today’s increasingly dynamic global marketplace,” Ms MacTiernan said.
“The digital platform is a ‘little hero’, working away in the background to provide data we take for granted.”
“This includes rainfall data and extreme weather tools, the Statistical Seasonal Forecast, the PestFax app, and many commercial weather apps and farming software programs.”
Ms MacTiernan said the delivery of digital data was being supported by the expansion of regional digital connectivity in the regions.
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