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WA’s 170 DPIRD weather stations are in for an upgrade to 4G with minimal disruption for users expected

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Unidata senior communications engineer Clint Barnes and general manager Matt Saunders with the Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development’s senior technical officer Phil George and eConnect+ project manager Darren Gibbon and research officer Ian Foster, at a weather station in Floreat.
Camera IconUnidata senior communications engineer Clint Barnes and general manager Matt Saunders with the Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development’s senior technical officer Phil George and eConnect+ project manager Darren Gibbon and research officer Ian Foster, at a weather station in Floreat. Credit: DPIRD / Supplied/DPIRD / Supplied

Weather stations across the State are in for an upgrade, with the hope 4G connectivity will ensure they can continue to provide “ongoing, near real-time” weather information for many years to come.

The Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development plans to kickstart an extensive upgrade to its 170 automated weather stations next month, with plans to finish work by the end of the year.

The Statewide weather stations and radars provide important data for farmers and regional communities, including air temperature, humidity, rainfall, wind speed and direction. Most stations also measure incoming solar radiation to calculate evaporation.

DPIRD eConnect+ project manager Darren Gibbon said the project involved upgrading weather stations from 3G to a 4G ‘sub-band’, offering low power consumption and covering wide areas — making it ideal for WA’s regions.

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WA-based company Unidata has been awarded the contract to assist with the rollout.

“This work will ensure DPIRD’s network of weather stations continues to provide ongoing near real-time weather information across WA,” Mr Gibbon said.

“After Telstra announced the discontinuation of its 3G network, DPIRD undertook an extensive evaluation of new 4G equipment to ensure appropriate upgrades to enable continued service delivery from its State-wide weather network.

“Most of DPIRD’s existing weather stations run on 3G and it is vital the upgrades are completed prior to June 2024.”

The technology is known as CatM-1, a form of Low Power Wide Area Network or LPWAN technology that provides 4G connectivity.

“Our network of automated weather stations and radars are important tools for growers and regional communities, as they provide timely, relevant and local weather data,” Mr Gibbon said.

“As each weather station is upgraded, we anticipate an outage of approximately an hour at that site, as old equipment is removed, the new hardware installed and existing sensor reconnected.”

Unidata general manager Matt Saunders said Unidata planned to manufacture the new equipment at its factory in O’Connor.

To find out more, visit weather.agric.wa.gov.au.

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