New weather info service provider geared to mobile devices

Back of plow truckWith winter coming soon, we’re working with a new service provider to get Iowa DOT field forces the information they need to make the best treatment decisions in winter weather.

Tina Greenfield from the Maintenance Bureau said, “We get a lot of feedback from the crews in the field and one thing we heard consistently was that the weather information needed to be simplified. Our previous provider had a very complex website with a lot of great information, but in talking to the supervisors, most of them just didn’t have the time to sit at a computer and go through all of that. The new provider has a user-friendly app that supervisors and others can use to get just the information they need in a mobile format, although there is a website component, as well.”

Chat feature phone screenshotJust like the previous weather service, the new provider, BAM WX, has a team of weather professionals on the Weather Porthole who are available 24/7 to provide information through the mobile app and website and to answer direct questions via chat or a phone call. Greenfield said, “The chat feature is one that I think is going to get used a lot. The people who reviewed the app when we were going through the purchasing process said they found it useful, and that the app was very intuitive.”

Live radar screen shotIf you are a fan of maps, you’ll notice big changes with the new system. Greenfield explained, “This system is based on each user choosing specific locations. You can choose up to 20 locations to save to your profile. The best way to browse is to keep a ‘core’ set of locations that you know you’ll always use but keep some locations free to reassign to various other places, depending on your needs. Of course, there is still the radar feature which will allow you to zoom out of a particular location to see what weather may be on the way.”

 Similar to our previous provider, there will be twice-daily video updates provided on the app and website. Greenfield said, “One upgrade with the videos is that a regional video is produced every day during the non-winter season. In the winter, we’ll get twice daily, Iowa-specific video updates. The videos are very engaging in that you can see the forecaster on screen along with the information they are sharing.”

How do I get training and support?

Training on the new weather system is ongoing and will start at the Fall Maintenance Conference on Oct. 4. Greenfield said, “We will be working with all the supervisors to get them up to speed. The chat feature on the new system is also a great place to ask questions directly of BAM if there is something that isn’t clear or you want more information.”

Who can get an account?

Greenfield and the team in the Maintenance Bureau have group accounts specifically for each maintenance circle, district, and many specific work groups. Individuals can also request accounts by contacting Greenfield. She said, “The benefit of logging into a shared account is that everyone can see what is going on in the chat feature. If someone has a question for the forecasters, everyone will be able to see the response. But if you would like an individual account for a specific employee, that’s fine, too.”

What’s next?

Original-269F9C14-ADC7-45F0-A2DF-1C2BB8590378Hopefully, we have a bit of time before the bulk of winter weather sets in, so Greenfield says now is a great time to try out the app and corresponding website. She said, “Although we anticipate most of our users will access this information on a mobile device, the website is available, too. The current website is simpler than what you may be used to seeing, but the service provider will be updating it later this year. The new service is very mobile-focused, and that simplicity and ease of use is where this product shines.”

For any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to Tina Greenfield at [email protected].

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