FarmSense—Localised weather data for farmers in remote communities.
An integrated technological concept to provide localised weather data to remote farming communities.
Partnering with the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), a team of DFM students designed a weather monitoring system that provides mutual benefit to BoM and farmers in remote areas. With growing unpredictability in weather due to climate change, these communities stand to benefit from localized weather data. Through user research the team discovered that farmers felt that the current reports were not enough. The final proof of concept prototype was FarmSense – a holistic system which gives farmers micro weather sensors that collect live data from their location, that in turn helps BoM to collect data from regional areas.
Bureau of Meteorology
BoM is Australia’s national weather, climate and water agency. Its expertise and services assist Australians in dealing with the harsh realities of their natural environment, including drought, floods, fires, storms, tsunami and tropical cyclones.
BoM maintains weather monitoring stations across Australia which have varying capabilities in the weather phenomena that they can monitor. The data from these stations informs decisions made by industry, farmers, and communities. BoM partnered with DFM to investigate potential ways to improve services for rural and remote communities.
The team conducted an assessment of BoM’s current weather monitoring stations and found
that: they are large, difficult to transport due to the sensitive equipment within them, and
require specific technical knowledge to maintain. Furthermore, due to size and cost, deploying weather stations such as these to individual properties would not be beneficial to either party. Any solution had to be small, efficient, and cheap to produce.
The problem goes beyond technology, the people facing this issue are Australian farmers who live in remote areas. The team conducted user research with farmers and found that with today’s erratic and changing climate, now more than ever farmers rely on the weather data they receive from BoM. But farmers felt that the current data was unreliable, vague, and not localised enough to make growing decisions on.
With both technological and human problems to address, the team iterated on a range of
designs before arriving at their proof of concept prototype—FarmSense.
FarmSense is designed as a miniature weather sensor that can provide localised data directly from their
farm and local area. Using micro sensors, the units are low cost, portable, and come with a variety
of mounting brackets, allowing it to be easily installed onto around the property. Each sensor is connected wirelessly to the farmers smartphone, giving them regular updates while transmitting the data back to BoM to supplement their existing data.
Through FarmSense there is the potential for farmers to benefit from localized weather data, and BoM is able to better understand weather trends in remote and regional areas.