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Leveraging Inter-Institutional Connectivity to Facilitate Weather Data Transmission from Automatic Weather Stations in Uganda


The use of Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) for Environment monitoring by the Uganda National Meteorological Authority has increased massively over the past 15 years. This increase is mainly due to the savings in time, energy and money that are usually accompanied by the use of Information Technology to replace manual organizational processes. These stations collect various weather data and automatically transmit this data to a central repository, usually a physical server in a relatively remote location. The transmission of this data, in Uganda, is achieved primary by GSM/GPRS over the backbone of one of the national service provider. While GPRS speeds are probably sufficient for the small amounts of data from these AWS, the consequence of this is a regular cost to the authority, not only in financial terms but also poor connectivity in remote areas, downtime and high power consumption. Since universities in Uganda are spread across the country with considerable spatial separation, it is possible that the UNMA (Uganda National Meteorological Authority) could place a number of AWSs at these campuses and still cover many climatological zones and, equally importantly, benefit from transmitting the AWS data through the networks at these universities that have been set-up by the national NREN, RENU. Because this data volume is very low, the cost of such transmission would be almost zero and other advantages would be manifested, such as the very limited involvement in communication channel maintenance and a higher availability of power. In this paper, we investigate the practical consequences that leveraging inter-institutional NREN connectivity would bring to a government authority like UNMA. We analyze the impact that this would have on the cost, operation and reliability of the whole AWS.



Automatic Weather Station, NRENs, Weather, Gateway, Wireless, Uganda