Many offices in the National Weather Service (NWS) are using Instant Messaging (IM) on an experimental basis as a tool for enhanced communication with core partners.
The real-time exchange of warning-related information via IM between the NWS, the media, and the hazards community is essential to fulfilling the NWS's mission of saving lives and property. IM provides media and emergency response partners with the ability to communicate significant event reports back to NWS operational personnel, who in turn utilize the information to make effective warning decisions.
The agency's partners also use IM as an efficient means of seeking clarifications and enhancements to the communication stream originating from the NWS during a fast-paced significant weather or hydrologic event. Because of its real-time nature and ease of use, IM lends itself extremely well to the sharing of significant weather reports and information on both natural and man-made disasters between many NWS offices and local, state and federal partners.
Participation in IM chats is limited to NWS offices, news media representatives, and emergency response officials. This is done to facilitate communications between core warning partners during critical situations.
The National Weather Service needs your feedback to assess the usefulness and quality of this experimental service. Please give us your comments using the following online survey:
For more information about this new service, please review the Service
Description Document (PDF Format - 18kb)
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Q: What is Instant Messaging (IM)?
- A: IM is a synchronous real-time method of communication. Multiple users can send messages to each other via a server in what is called a "chat room". The messages are composed and sent via software called a chat client. This client also displays the responses from the other users in the chat group.
- Q: How and why is the NWS going to use IM?
- A: Because of its real-time nature, this form of communication lends itself well to the sharing of significant weather reports and information on both natural and man-made disasters between the National Weather Service (NWS) and members of the hazards community.
- Q: Will IM replace the current NWS watch/warning dissemination process?
- A: No. IM is being used as an experimental tool for enhanced communications with core partners in times of significant weather or man-made disasters.
- Q: Will the use of IM on this experimental basis hinder the watch/warning dissemination process?
- A:No. IM is an experimental service. Its use is solely dependent on the staffing and workload of the participating office.
- Q: Are all NWS offices going to use IM?
- A: IM will initially be provided by a number of NWS offices across the continental United States, primarily those located in the central, southern and eastern portions of the country. It is expected that the number of offices providing IM services will increase and eventually encompass all geographic sections of the country as resources allow. The initial decision by local NWS offices to provide IM is largely contingent on expressions of interest and/or need by media and emergency response partners.
- Q: Can I be apart of IM with the NWS?
- A: The target audience for this experimental service at this time is aimed at broadcast media partners, emergency managers and other members of the hazards response community, and Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES)/Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (RACES) Skywarn Net Ham Operators. These constituents play a critical role in helping the NWS achieve its core mission of protecting life and property.