Dr Tam Cheuk-ming,Senior Scientific Officer,
Hong Kong Observatory

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Mr Lam has been at the helm from the very beginning. He was the first project co-ordinator, and struggled hard to persuade WMO member countries to participate in an innovative, but unfamiliar, project. Subsequent co-ordinators and members of the HKO WWIS support team developed many practical solutions to cope with the differing technical capabilities of the countries. I feel so lucky that I am the co-ordinator at this historic moment. As in a sprint relay, I just continued to charge forward and was fortunate to have an illuminating opportunity during my watch. The glory really belongs to all members of the team, past and present, who contributed their best efforts in the project.

While the glamour at the Blue Hall was over in a matter of minutes, the award citation of the WWIS project will shine forever. It says, “They have a strong vision, global objectives, a robust sustainability model and demonstrate information exchange between national and international organisations sharing weather data.” It summarised so appropriately HKO’s effort over some 10 years to advocate an authoritative weather website for the benefit of the global population. WMO eventually endorsed the idea in 2000 and, recognising our renowned expertise in website management, entrusted it to HKO to design, develop and operate the WWIS.

We worked hard to turn WWIS into a dynamic and sustainable international project. At present, 118 NMSs are participating in this project. Every day official forecasts for 1,270 cities worldwide are sent by the NMSs to HKO, for

processing and display on the website. The WWIS started with only an English version. Because of its success, five other language versions followed and are operated by partners on the Mainland (Chinese), France (French), Oman (Arabic), Portugal (Portuguese) and Spain (Spanish). HKO now serves as the central information hub, receiving official forecasts from the world and redistributing them to these partners. In 2007, the total number of page visits reached almost 100 million.

Candy Chiu Chiu-yee, now a Chief Scientific Assistant at HKO said, “I volunteered to learn French as soon as I recognised that the WWIS project would involve the need to handle correspondence in foreign languages. I used my own time to attend classes and came into contact with a beautiful language. Through the project, it opened up my vision of the world. I got interested in studying the people and culture of the participating countries, some of which I had never heard of before. WWIS is a worthwhile project that serves all peoples of the world. Looking back, it has been all good fun and I am truly honoured to be a member of the HKO WWIS support team.”

As HKO celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, the Stockholm Challenge Award is a fabulous addition to our collection of trophies.