Cellphones to get forecasts on the piste

Climate Dynamics is hoping to net some of the money being spent on mobile phone calls and text messaging by offering on-the-spot ski reports via cellphone.

Climate Dynamics is hoping to net some of the money being spent on mobile phone calls and text messaging by offering on-the-spot ski reports via cellphone.

The company, which is represented in Wellington and Queenstown, plans to provide instant local ski forecasts and weather reports via cellphone to complement its web-based service, launched last week in New Zealand and to be unveiled this week in Australia.

“A text message costs 20 cents. We hope to get five to 10 cents. Multiply by thousands and you get a reasonable stream of income,” says Queenstown businessman Evan Bloomfield, one of the trio who have set up the service.

Vodafone, with whom the firm would like to partner for the service, already offers a text-based snow report service through its Vizzavi mobile internet, which offers local forecasts by keying in the user's location. Bloomfield says his service will use cell sites to automatically locate users.

Vodafone spokesperson Alison Sykora says the firm has "been in touch with us through our Viper development programme, but it's too soon in the piece for us to make any comments at this point."

Climate Dynamics comprises Victoria University meteorologist Jim McGregor, Bloomfield and Victoria University post-doctoral fellow Rob Davies, now based in Wales. The firm is one of three helped by the KiwiStartUp.net programme involving Clear, Microsoft and Compaq, which are supplying software, hardware and advice.

Davies and McGregor have put out the web-based weather maps for New Zealand and the South Pacific through www.snow-forecastnz.com, using global model outputs supplied from the UK which look at precipitation and freezing levels to predict snowfall. Bloomfield says the mobile service will use local transmitters, so a skier on Coronet Peak could be told what to expect locally.

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