The boom in communication technology has opened many opportunities for private meteorological service companies in China. China Meteorological Administration’s (CMA) has, therefore, placed high priority on establishing collaborative relationships with these in order to restructure and streamline meteorological services. In 2015, CMA started to explored partnerships between the National Service and private meteorological services to boost Chinese expertise and knowledge in developing and disseminating meteorological services. In May, CMA-affiliated Huafeng Meteorological Media Group (Huafeng Group) and AccuWeather formed a joint venture: the Huafeng-AccuWeather Meteorological Technology (Beijing) Co., Ltd. The partnership was an innovative private-public model for cooperation.
CMA assigned the operation of its official “China Weather” mobile application (app) and provision of public web-based meteorological services to the newly created Huafeng-AccuWeather. The new company would benefit from both government and private sector resources and expertise to become a market success. Its performance and user acceptance has surpassed all expectation. The effectiveness of this initiative arises from three main factors: user experience, timely dissemination and feedback mechanisms.
Strengthening the user experience
The user was placed at the centre of product and service development. User acceptance comes from designing intuitive and useful products and services that focus on specific user needs. Huafeng-Accuweather places value on the integration of technologies and techniques from both sides to create more innovative products. Its first product, “RealFeel,” combines meteorological elements such as temperature, ultraviolet (UV) and wind speed and knowledge on how humans experience those elements. This apparent temperature product tells users how the current weather will really feel to them. This information is subdivided into “real feel in shade” and “real feel in wind” as well as offering additional services to users.
In a second stage, Huafeng-Accuweather developed precipitation phase prediction products to provide credible forecasts of rainfall, snowfall and sleet. RealFeel analyzes the impact of different precipitation phases on users’ travel, transportation and electricity sources to keep them informed and prepared with a lead time of 15 days.
Most recently, Huafeng-Accuweather developed services and products with long lead-time (90-day) forecasts. The Chinese concept of Xun – a period of ten days – was used to introduced the service, which allows users to browse the forecasts by the first (early), second (middle) or third (late) ten days of a month of their choice.
Dissemination of authoritative forecasts and warning
The National Service remains the authoritative voice for weather forecasts and warnings with the responsibility for disseminating such information in a timely manner to those who need it. However, this dissemination requires the participation of various non-governmental sectors as well as private enterprises to be more effective. AccuWeather, an international private company, boasts large numbers of users and partners around the world. Building upon AccuWeather's global service network, Huafeng-Accuweather makes China’s authoritative forecasts and warnings available worldwide by applying the so-called transboundary spread of messages. At present, the interface of Huafeng-AccuWeather API automatically provides forecasts and warnings globally in more than 100 languages, sharing meteorological information and assisting in the provision of data for global disaster risk prevention and mitigation.
Enhancing the operational service through feedback mechanism
The Huafeng-Accuweather public-private partnership has truly benefited from the flexibility and vitality that are the strengths of private enterprises. One outcome is the introduction of a user interaction and feedback mechanism, based on AccuWeather’s innovative user service concept. In 2018, Huafeng-AccuWeather cooperated with Vivo Mobile to add a user feedback feature on their platform for users to give timely feedback when the actual weather conditions in their location are inconsistent with those displayed on their mobile phone. This interaction with users improved – and continues to improve – the accuracy of real-time data and the user experience.
The business model, which has been strengthened through partnerships with other mobile vendors, benefits distribution and allows Huafeng-AccuWeather to spread meteorological information by plug-in weather features built into the mobile phone. At present, its partners include China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom and Internet service providers such as Baidu and Yidianzixun. This continued innovation in concept and practice is contributing to a growing user base which has objectively expanded the coverage of meteorological forecasting and warning services and the visibility of the NMHS.
Stronger working together
The strengths of the CMA-affiliated enterprise and AccuWeather working as one have resulted in a stable number of App users and a rapid increase in page views of the WAP websitem.weathercn.com. At present, the Huafeng Group brands the businesses of Huafeng-AccuWeather globally as “China Weather” for easy recognition and future development. AccuWeather plans to provide further support to the joint venture on various aspects related to technology and services. The excellent performance of Huafeng-AccuWeather suggests that success and innovation will grow in National Services that adopt Public-Private Partnerships.