Private weather forecaster hopeful government will improve their access to weather data

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NZN

Private weather forecaster WeatherWatch.co.nz is hopeful the government will improve access to weather data held by government agencies.

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Source: 1 NEWS

In 1992 the New Zealand Meteorological Service was split into MetService, a forecasting group with a commercial focus, and NIWA, a research group.

The weather-observing network became MetService's asset, while the climate-observing network became NIWA's.

WeatherWatch.co.nz argues the two organisations have an unfair advantage over private operators.

Its says a report prepared by PWC New Zealand for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) claims MetService and NIWA commercialise tax funded data.

The report says no other country does it this way, says WeatherWatch.co.nz head forecaster Philip Duncan.

The PWC report says weather data in New Zealand is largely not open access and the current model encourages the government operators to commercialise services themselves rather than assist others to do so.

"We considered this issue as being a natural monopoly similar to the telecommunications or electricity sectors," the report says.

Weaterhwatch.co.nz says the costs of making data freely available are being grossly exaggerated to protect the current set up.

It says an email it has from MBIE indicates the Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, Dr Megan Woods, has requested MBIE explore the recommendations of the report.

The minister also wants to ensure the costs of any changes, likely to be met by the taxpayer, are proportionate to the benefits.

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