BIG DATA ANALYSIS AND DECISION SUPPORT
Hong Kong Observatory

Exemplary Services@Gov
2017
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USE OF ELECTRONIC INTELLIGENCE TO ANALYSE MASSIVE INFORMATION FOR DECISION MAKING

In the era of big data, the amount of available weather data has been increasing drastically. The daily amount of data processed by the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) is equivalent to more than 150 million text pages. It is impossible for weather forecasters to deal with every single piece of data during their hectic daily schedules.

To tackle data and information overload, HKO developed the “Intelligent Meteorological Monitoring Assistant”, a system which effectively handles large amounts of information for weather forecasting.

TURNING EXPERTS’ WISDOM INTO ALGORITHMS

The “Intelligent Assistant” is an innovative system developed by HKO to emulate meteorological experts dealing with large numbers of weather data. The system utilises the experts’ knowledge and encodes it into rules and algorithms specific to local situations, which can be used to monitor the weather and automatically generate actionable suggestions. It prioritises and retains weather-related information with higher operational values among all the data collected.

The system is capable of monitoring weather reports and warnings from meteorological centres in neighbouring regions, record-breaking weather events, extreme weather, as well as inconsistent or suspicious data. When certain prescribed criteria are met, audible and visual alarms will be triggered to alert the forecasters. The system can also generate automatic reports based on rainfall data for public consumption. Moreover, staff are able to offer suggestions to improve the system algorithms and advice messages through the system-user interface. The launch of the “Intelligent Assistant” significantly reduced the forecasters’ workload, thereby taking the Observatory to the next level. At the same time, it can more effectively retain the expertise and experience of weather forecasting.

INFORMATION AVAILABLE AT A GLANCE ON THE “INTEGRATED DISPLAY”

In the past, around 200 individual weather charts were printed every day and put up on a wall in the forecasting office for review by the forecasters. To facilitate updates and save resources, HKO has built an “Integrated Information Display System” to replace the printed weather charts. This user-friendly display system consists of 15 individual 46-inch full high-definition screens. The system can display websites and television channels, connect to computers and support video conferencing. HKO also developed in-house software applications to enable the forecasters to change the displays quickly, using tablet computers, to reflect different weather scenarios such as rainstorms and tropical cyclones. It can also display different combinations of the weather information.

Compared with the wall charts used in the past, the “Integrated Display” is more flexible when showing real-time weather information. This helps the forecasters to better understand the latest weather situation. Furthermore, the system saves a large amount of paper and printing materials, and streamlines work processes. It not only reduces expenditure, but also protects the environment.

The implementation of both systems from the initial design to commissioning was managed by colleagues also engaged in forecasting , in close communication with their supervisors, users and IT technicians in order to meet everyone’s needs. Both systems have eventually become indispensable tools for HKO staff.

The “Integrated Display” brings together all available weather information which enables colleagues to fully understand the latest weather situation.
The “Integrated Display” brings together all available weather information which enables colleagues to fully understand the latest weather situation.
The “Intelligent Assistant” serves as a useful tool to forecasters through its automatic processing and analysis of weather data.
The “Intelligent Assistant” serves as a useful tool to forecasters through its automatic processing and analysis of weather data.
The “Intelligent Assistant” can automatically convert disordered rainfall data into readable text
The “Intelligent Assistant” can automatically convert disordered rainfall data into readable text