Serving People through Science
Hong Kong Observatory

Exemplary Services@Gov
2009

While the weather may change unpredictably, yet, on the basis of science, the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) has been launching services that suit the use of the public. Weather information is closely related to the everyday life of the public, and their comments are especially important for the Observatory to improve the quality of its service.

Sharing Ideas, Scientific Spirit

Over the past two years, the HKO has introduced a number of new services for the convenience of the public. For example, the Location-Specific Lightning Alert Service enables the public to know the lightning situation of the nearby area through a mobile phone or PDA, and the Weather Wizard can automatically remind computer users about the latest status of weather warning.

Mr. LEUNG Wing-mo, Assistant Director of the Hong Kong Observatory, indicated that the HKO has been collecting opinions of the public and various organisations on its meteorological service, and that new services will be launched when the Relevant technology becomes mature. He said, "For a new service to become available, it often requires the combination of the demand of users and the availability of Relevant technology." He noted that if the HKO conceives new services merely from a scientist's perspective, then there may be discrepancies between their conception and the public's expectation. Therefore, its services must be formulated in accordance with the needs of the public.

Work satisfaction of our staff has also been greatly enhanced along with the implementation of new services. "My colleagues have spent a lot of time on studying the new services and on launching them in order to benefit the public. It's just natural that they have a great sense of satisfaction." he said.

Embracing Partners and Sharing Ideas

Success of new services requires the commitment of more resources, which are, nevertheless, limited. To further enhance its service, collaboration with other institutions becomes necessary. In 2007, the HKO developed the HK Co-WIN (Hong Kong Community Weather Information Network) jointly with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

"Schools and social organisations finance their purchase of the equipment and install by themselves the automatic weather stations. The Polytechnic University provides the server and administers the Website; we just offer manpower and some professional advices. This then enables the public to obtain more community weather information". In addition, recently the HKO collaborated with the virologists of the Chinese University of Hong Kong to study the relationship between weather and influenza activity. "We are weather experts. By intuition we know that influenza activity would be affected by the weather, but we don't know much about influenza. Therefore, we have engaged ourselves in a cross-discipline collaboration with CUHK's Faculty of Medicine. Eventually it is the public who will benefit from the study."

In addition to tertiary institutes, the HKO would also collaborate with non-Government organisations and the business sector over the issue of climate change, for the sake of spreading information through their networks. An example of such collaboration is the programme "Salvage the Earth, Keep It Below 16°C", recently launched with RoadShow.

Looking ahead, the HKO aspires to provide members of the community personalised weather forecasts: "Now members of the community can download real-time weather information at the WiFi hotspots in various districts. However, we hoped that we can further provide weather forecasts on district basis." Mr Leung said that in theory the technology is there, but its accuracy is still low, and more research is needed before it can be launched.

Mr. LEUNG Wing-mo, Assistant Director of the Hong Kong Observatory said, " The HKO aspires to provide members of the community personalised weather forecasts."
Sharing the scientific spirit and with help of sophisticated appliances, the HKO provides accurate and meteorological services to the community.
The continuous effort of the HKO in devising new services contributes to the provision of convenient meteorological services to the community.
"Salvage the Earth, Keep It below 16°C" is a collaboration with non-Government organisations and the business sector on the issue of climate change.