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Multilingual Browser Access to Heterogeneous Weather Databases

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Pp. 669-675 in Proceedings of the World Congress of Computers in Agriculture and Natural Resources (13-15, March 2002, Iguacu Falls, Brazil)  701P0301.(doi:10.13031/2013.8396)
Authors:   M. Laurenson, A. Otuka, T. Kiura, and S. Ninomiya
Keywords:   Decision Support Systems/Modeling, Internet Applications, Weather & Climate Applications, Software Development

The MetBroker system provides agricultural models and modellers with consistent access to Internet-accessible weather databases. However, models implemented as Java applets and applications require that the user install a Java 2 runtime - typically a 6 to 8 MB download. The Remote Method Invocation mechanism used for communication between such models and Metbroker is also blocked by some firewalls. These factors limit widespread adoption of MetBroker. This project sought to address these difficulties by making MetBroker accessible via standard browsers. A prototype Java servlet provided Japanese users access to the MAFF database of AMeDAS data and demonstrated the feasibility of the approach. This servlet has now been generalized to provide Japanese, English, Korean and Thai users access to eight databases in five countries. Browsers communicate with the servlet using standard HTTP, which avoids firewall difficulties and the need for a Java runtime. The interface is a little less responsive and informative than that of an applet performing a similar task, but is useable even over low bandwidth links. A side benefit of this approach is that the servlet is accessible from some Internet-capable cellular phones. There are now approximately 30 million such phones in Japan, and they offer a useful means to deliver model output to farmers in the field.

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