Government Technology

Broward County Public Schools Implement Mobile Severe Weather Alerts




January 22, 2007 By

Broward County Public Schools, located in South Florida, is the first school district in the nation to implement a real-time, location-based wireless weather alert system that will notify the faculty and staff of severe weather conditions that threaten the safety of athletes, coaches, students and spectators. The system utilizes Sprint GPS-enabled handsets on the Nextel National Network equipped with a weather alert application from WeatherBug, a provider of live, local weather information services. WeatherBug Protect is the first alert system to integrate live streaming weather information from the 8,000 WeatherBug Tracking Stations located throughout the country primarily in neighborhoods atop schools.

"The safety of the students and the staff is top priority. Multiple districts across the U.S. have suffered the loss of student life due to weather-related incidents during outdoor student activities," said Jerry Graziose, director of safety, Broward County Public Schools. "This unique application offers an important layer of safety for students, faculty and the general public attending outdoor sporting events and other activities."

Based on predefined parameters, any school within range of a severe weather threat will receive alerts from the WeatherBug Protect system. Custom alerts such as heat index, lightning detection warnings, wind gusts, as well as all the standard severe weather alerts issued from the National Weather Service (NWS), are sent to the GPS enabled Nextel phones. During an outdoor activity, faculty and staff carrying Nextel handsets can then relay critical advance notification of severe weather-related events and move athletes, students and spectators to safety.

"WeatherBug Protect provides a secure, easy-to-use service, helping to safeguard people during critical and time-sensitive events," said Chris Brozenick, vice president and general manager of mobile, WeatherBug. "The location-based technology and the automated process ensure that relevant notifications reach the right people in the right place at the right time."

Broward County Public Schools has distributed approximately 800 Nextel GPS handsets outfitted with WeatherBug Protect. In addition, the Motorola-built handsets are ideal for outdoor use and meet military standards for dust, shock, vibration and rain resistance.

"The school faculty and staff have in-hand enhanced location-based mobile devices also equipped with the industry-leading Nextel Walkie-Talkie service as a back up cellular network feature," Craig Carroll, national director of education for Sprint. "Sprint is proud to know that this joint effort with Broward County Public Schools and WeatherBug has the potential to improve student safety through increased awareness and response to weather conditions for everything from athletic activities to band practices to field trips."

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