Archive for the ‘startup’ Tag

Live weather data & video on Stormpulse during US landfalls in 2011

This is a guest post by Mark Sudduth, owner and operator of HurricaneTrack.com.

I am pleased to announce that HurricaneTrack.com is partnering with Stormpulse beginning today. The partnership will mean an incredible hurricane tracking experience for both of our audiences. I met with Stormpulse co-founder Matt Wensing a couple of weeks ago in Florida. We talked about some ideas that grew in to even bigger ideas and before we knew it, we had hatched a plan that will revolutionize hurricane tracking. Our plan is to combine the ultra-modern look of the Stormpulse brand with the educational, informative and live data aspects of HurricaneTrack.com. It is no secret that our Java maps are showing their age. Five or six years ago, they were cutting edge, now they are dated and were in need of a complete re-design. Instead of doing that, we have decided to add a custom Stormpulse tracking map to our homepage (as seen below). The map’s functionality will evolve over time but it will give our visitors instant access to a live hurricane tracking map from the moment an “invest” is activated by the National Hurricane Center.

Stormpulse and its related tracking maps have quickly become famous the world over. Utilized by millions of people from business, industry, government agencies and of course the avid hurricane tracker, there is no mistaking a Stormpulse tracking map. We are honored to have the privilege of providing the Stormpulse brand to our visitors. In fact, we will develop special features for our version of the tracking map not found anywhere else.

As for our contribution to Stormpulse, we will develop high resolution digital data and live video streams for Stormpulse clients. The data will be plotted on Stormpulse maps generated for specific needs of their clients- ranging from personal use to large corporate and government decision making entities. The long term goal is to blanket a region with dozens of instrumented towers to provide unprecedented live data and video streams on a level never before available. This partnership will help to facilitate that goal.

Matt had this to say regarding the new partnership:

“Mark’s proven delivery of accurate, real-time storm data and video feeds during landfalls makes the HurricaneTrack team an excellent extension to the Stormpulse platform. Working together is an obvious and natural fit which will allow us to demonstrate what can be done when you bring together the right expertise.”

Today’s announcement is only the beginning to what we both see as an enormous opportunity to serve both of our user bases with the best tools available. The entire HurricaneTrack.com team looks forward to pushing the limits of what we can do with the power of Stormpulse on our side.

Nationwide severe weather on Stormpulse

This morning we updated the site to include most of the severe weather watches and warnings published by the National Weather Service (weather.gov).

This includes many, many types of hazards such as:

  • Severe Thunderstorms
  • Tornadoes
  • Floods & flash floods
  • Fire watches/warnings
  • Winter storms (snow, sleet)
  • Frosts/freezes
  • Extreme heat

Here’s an example of some frost creeping into Charlotte, NC this morning:

Frost in Charlotte, NC

We’ve adopted the same colors as the official NWS charts (though that may change), and we’ve added value (in our Stormpulse way) by making the areas clickable, by joining together neighborhoring shapes into a single area (less clutter, less confusion) when they share the same advisory/alert, and by giving you access to the complete description right inside the map.

Along with the mapping visuals, you’ll also notice we have a search box that supports searching by state, city, or zip code.

Search

Example searches: “Memphis, TN“, “33411“, “New York, NY“, “Minnesota“, “California“, “FL“.

Play around and have fun with it, and let us know what you think.  We are considering this very much an early version (‘beta’ in developer lingo), so beware of hidden bugs and potential performance issues if you are using a slower computer.

Stormpulse Advanced survey

Want to help shape our future? Then head over to our site and click the ‘Help Stormpulse, take our survey!‘ link in the top-right-hand corner.

We’re looking to add advanced accounts with premium features to our site, and we’d appreciate your frank input.

We’re building our own ad network

If you just want to know how to advertise with us, you can head to the Advertise page on our site. If, however, you’d first (or only) like to know more about this decision of ours, read on …

As I began this post, I wrestled with a title. Something about “accepting advertising” came to mind, but falls so short of what we’re really doing. What are we doing? First, a bit of context:

By our latest estimate, building Stormpulse.com has taken over 10,000 hours stretched over 4 years time. In that time, we’ve done nothing to monetize the site except adding a Tipjoy button and later a PayPal Donate button. Those steps were a response to user demands that we have some way of making money off the site. (We felt appreciated to say the least.)

Some of you (a very, very small number) may have noticed that we took down the Donate button last Friday. This reflects a decision we’ve made: we’re going to build a network of severe weather-related advertisers from the ground up.

In keeping with the same do-it-yourself spirit that caused us to write our own Flash application code instead of co-opting Google Maps, we’re going to flip open our phones and make the calls and make the advertising connections it takes to ensure that our site never has an irrelevant ad on its pages. We can’t leave that up to a contextual algorithm.

As consumers of our own site, we really love the ad-free experience, so we’re determined to make our advertisements as content-like as possible. No fat bellies, no dancing bears, no blinking text. Many of those 10,000 hours invested in the site have been about high-quality display. We’re not going to muck it up now.

In fact, we’re building our own network so that we have a total control that will allow us to ultimately remove the line between advertising and content. What do I mean by that? Another day, another post (but yes, we have something coming). For now, know that we are looking forward to speaking with anyone that would like to advertise their product or service on our site. We have several options available, including geo-targeting.

Those of you that remain concerned should know that we’re also planning to offer an ad-free option. If that’s something you’d be interested in, please let us know.

Concerns, questions, and comments anyone? Fire away.

Happy birthday: Stormpulse turns 4!

This week, Stormpulse turns four years old. The site began as a just-for-fun project in mid-September of 2004. Back then I was calling it ‘canewatch’–the name of the folder on my laptop that held all of the little PHP scripts that grabbed XML from the National Hurricane Center and parsed the massive HURDAT file containing all of the best track information back to 1851.

An excerpt from my first blog post about it, from September 21st, 2004:

National Hurricane Center / Tropical Prediction Center — my latest web project involves hurricanes. Twelve hundred of them to be exact. Well, including tropical storms. Can’t share much detail but the theme of the story is that I’m tired of the cartoon renderings that currently pass as meteorological forecasts and have embarked on a journey to bring information rich interactive displays using hurricane data to the general public. I’ve also been waking up between 4:00am and 5:30am in the morning to plug away at this, as my life with a now-nine-week old is rather full!

And another:

To supplement the quasi-dearth of creative challenge at my workplace, I’m currently coding away for what will be stormpulse.com, a real-time updating hurricane tracking site. Nothing there yet, but my PowerBook is gladly accepting a pummeling of data as I build the MySQL back-end. This is an exciting project in many ways. From a social benefits standpoint, I truly believe people deserve better than the cartoon-like graphics and information they get from their local weather service. Technologically, it’s loaded with challenges of integrating multiple data sources by fetching live feeds and simultaneously calling on the historical data that will be stored as well (all of the tracking information since 1851). For the geeks out there, it looks something like: Original input + fetched data (Cron jobs) –> [MySQL] <– PHP –> [XML] <– XML Connector –> [Flash]. Yesterday I downloaded 32,000 GPS coordinates for the state of Florida. Fun! :-D

That old personal blog also contains a few posts commenting on Hurricane Frances, the storm that most directly inspired me to write the code (my family was and still is in West Palm Beach, near Frances’ ultimate landfall). For those of you interested in startups, you may want to read more about our beginnings here at Stormpulse.com.

What have we accomplished in four years? We’ve launched a site, we’ve heard a lot of great feedback, we’ve assimilated that feedback, and we’ve received more visitors in the last three weeks than we ever thought possible.

Which brings me to a very big ‘THANKS!’ to all of you that have helped spread the word. Thank you!