So said Kate Lundy last week. (The twitterverse is accustomed to reading backwards.)
So Senate estimates are on. The transcripts are available in, uh… convenient… PDF form. Oh well, at least it gets published in a timely fashion. The second link entitled Environment, Communications, and the Arts (PDF) has the second half of that committee’s questioning, which includes the Bureau of Meteorology.
Senator LUNDY— As far as accessing information by citizens to weather is concerned, how does that place you when compared with other what I would describe as primary sources of weather information? Does that mean more and more people are coming to you to get it straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, rather than using secondary weather information services? Have you done much analysis on that?
Dr Ayers— No. I do not have that detail. I do not know that we have that detail. Another point I would make about the ACMA report is that these little phones that I am waving around in the air here that everybody has these days, in looking at the uses of those phones, if I remember those numbers correctly, 68 per cent of people use these things for browsing the web. The next most common was 50 per cent who use them for news, and then at 48 per cent was checking the weather. I think you are quite right in the direction of your question, that providing information to the public is important. I can not tell you how many of those sorts of uses come to the bureau compared with other providers of weather information but it is an area that we have been working on. We are providing more information on the web. We have restructured the shape of the web, and we will be doing some thinking in the future about the possibility of iPhone applications.
Senator LUNDY— I was going to ask you about your mobile applications.
Dr Ayers— We are beginning to think about that.
Senator LUNDY— So you do not have one at the moment?
Dr Ayers— No, but in particular relating to some of the developments in the water area and the provision of water information, that is one of the areas that we are looking at.
Senator LUNDY— Not just iPhone, of course, but other smart phones?
Dr Ayers— Yes.
Senator LUNDY— Just checking, to make sure it is an open platform.
Dr Ayers— I have a battle with the head of the water division. He has an iPhone and I do not.
Senator LUNDY— We are all just jealous of him, it is all right.
Dr Ayers— We are having a battle internally.
Senator LUNDY— In terms of the availability of your datasets about the historical record of weather patterns and the climate, what are your policies around making those datasets available to researchers, to enthusiastic students who want to mash up the data and use it for themselves? What is your general approach to making those datasets available?
Dr Ayers— They are available via the web now, so anybody who wants to look at the historical record can go to the national climate record as it is housed in the bureau’s databases. You can go and download datasets that you can then put into spreadsheets and do other work.
Senator LUNDY— How do you manage the ownership or copyright associated with those datasets? Do you put them under a Creative Commons licence or something like that?
Dr Ayers— That is the direction that we have been heading in terms of the way in which we are handling water information as well. That is an area that we are exploring at the moment.
Senator LUNDY— Are you familiar with the government’s commissioned Gov2.0 Taskforce report?
Dr Ayers— Yes.
Senator LUNDY— I understand that the government is currently considering its response to it, but it presses the point about the use of the Creative Commons style licensing to help facilitate access to that information, to lower the levels of bureaucracy in getting access to it. I am amazed at the numbers. As I said, I had heard that there were some big ones, but 2.4 billion hits is a pretty big number, so congratulations on what you have achieved with your website. I will make a point of trying to ask you questions about your web presence every single estimates.
Dr Ayers— I will be prepared, Senator.
(links and formatting added by me, obvs)
It’s kinda awesome having Kate Lundy as a Senator, no?
ps. I tried to look for this on Open Australia and couldn’t find anything that looked like Senate estimates. Does OA not cover Senate estimates, or will it appear there in time?