About The Alachua County EMWIN Project

The Alachua County EMWIN Project provides FREE WEATHER BULLETINS to your e-mail, pager, or cellphone - as a public service to the local community!

~ Read below for more information about it! ~


What Is EMWIN?

EMWIN stands for the Emergency Managers Weather Information Network. It is a weather information datastream that provides free emergency weather information and other related data. In 1995 the National Weather Service recognized the need to provide the emergency management community with access to a set of NWS warnings, watches, forecasts, and other products at no recurring cost. Over the years the the systems use has slowly been expanded to include a wider customer range to include the general public and even some smaller countries which did not have the budget to obtain their own weather notification system. The datastream is distributed through three methods -- Internet, satellite, and VHF broadcast.

Funding, volunteer work, and/or technical assistance for EMWIN was initially provided by the National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and other public and private organizations.

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What Does THIS System Do?

Our system works exactly like the Alachua County Office of Emergency Management's EMWIN system. It is the exact same equipment, in fact. ACOEM has their system set up and running now in the Alachua County Combined Communications & Emergency Operations Center (see map). However, ACOEM's system is used mostly "in-house". They output their info to a couple of ACOEM-run lists and local in-house servers and such. They have the ability to serve a much wider audience such as the general public just as we're doing, but it was decided by ACOEM that to do so would take too much time, manpower effort, resources, and money; so when they were offered a secondary EMWIN system by FDEM they actually refused it. Ken Allen, then the Asst. Emergency Manager (now the Emergency Manager for UF EM), in an email, notified Todd Sherman of the existence of the spare system and asked if Alachua County SKYWARN® would like to take control of it. Without hesitation, we accepted. John Fleming, of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, then personally delivered the ground station equipment to Mr. Sherman's doorstep and, with a quick signature acknowledging receipt and ownership, it then became the property of Alachua County SKYWARN. Work was begun immediately to arrange permission from the University of Florida and its Physical Plant Division to allow initial placement atop the Dental Science Building at Shands at the University of Florida, where the station resided for a number of years. Unfortunately however, after the server system was hacked by a Gator Amateur Radio Club member in early 2009, and a subsequent criminal investigation was severely snafoo'd by UPD investigators, the equipment was removed to another much safer location. [see note]

[Pager Example] our system does much the same thing as the EOC EMWIN system; however, we cater to the general public - at no cost, as a public service. We can send products out to your cellphone or text pager, as well as to your e-mail Inbox. What makes us different from other weather bulletin servers on the Internet is that we can actually customize the bulletins to suit your specific needs. We're also FTPing products to our own AC-EMWIN web site, and a watch/warning map to the Alachua County SKYWARN main page. (If you like, we can even FTP the watch/warning map to your OWN web site!) In recent years, various EMAs from around the state have even come to us requesting our service in sending bulletins to their own Facebook pages!

[ AC-EMWIN Project - County Coverage Map ] Bulletin users past and present include agencies such as Gainesville Fire & Rescue, various emergency management agency personnel (locally and in surrounding counties, including Bradford Co), UF teachers, staff, and employees, security systems agencies, NAVSTA Mayport, fire department workers in various surrounding counties, Press corps personnel, alarm system companies (to alert their admin of weather which could affect other divisions), various other companies - including security systems businesses (for admin personnel notifications only, and not used in a manner for profit), various email lists(see), and also to Facebook pages of a number of EMAs(see); and to the Hurricane Bulletins - Florida page), and Twitter pages such as the AC-EMWIN Twitter site and the ACWIN-KGNV METARs site. Our server also serves a listgroup called ACEMWIN-HURR-L, which is a hurricane bulletins list group where people can subscribe to any of a number of varying types of hurricane bulletins. This list currently boasts nearly 900 users from around the world, including users from a number of city, county, state, and federal government agencies, universities, and more. It is for this reason that we are seriously thinking of incorporating the Alachua County EMWIN Project so that we can secure funding to make sure that it stays operational at all times. Seems our services are becoming pretty important lately, more and more, and we want to make sure that our services are reliable.

Even daily, agencies such as TV-20, the Gainesville Sun, and The Sky 97.3 FM can be found retweeting our information to the public on Twitter and Facebook, and we are very proud that our services allow this to happen. As you can see, the work that we do is not insignificant. ...And we keep expanding.

Ownership of the AC-EMWIN system was transferred to Todd Sherman, Founder and Project Manager of the Alachua County EMWIN Project by John Fleming of the Florida Division of Emergency Management in 2002. While we were not able to secure any real outside financial support or any serious, dedicated sponsorship of the Alachua County EMWIN Project by other local groups and organizations, some did at least also help with the initial setup of the Project in various ways...for which we are grateful. Most of the long-term operational and maintenance expenses, however, came from out-of-pocket. Over time, various components eventually failed and were swapped out with newer and better upgraded parts and equipment until most of the original equipment handed to us by FDEM pretty much no longer existed and the entire system had became something completely brand new, now completely paid for and supported by ourselves.

We were originally mandated to provide the local area public with over-the-air retransmissions of the EMWIN datastream. But as we said, over time it was realized that no one was actually utilizing the OTA retransmissions, and on Mr. Fleming's own advice we turned off the transmitter. But that was not the end of the AC-EMWIN Project. The retransmissions were not all that we were providing to the local area public. Mr. Fleming has since numerous times, himself - even as recently as late 2013 - mentioned how proud he has been of our dedication to the mission and how absolutely amazed he's been at how far we've actually been able to go with it - so far beyond his own intentions and expectations, and for as long as we have - especially in the face of so much experienced difficulty and adversity, including some attempted interference by other agencies and organizations. We are very grateful to Mr. Fleming for his support, experience, and repeated encouragements. We believe in the mission and it's goals wholeheartedly: to get the information out to the public as quickly as possible, using any and every available means possible -- and especially where that information might be used to possibly help save lives.

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Who Can Use This System? and How?

Why us when there are so many other commercially-run internet services out there offering weather bulletins, too? Well, you'll find that of the commercial internet services available, if you want bulletins for FREE, they come with all sorts of caveats and limitations. ...You can only get one free bulletin per subscriber. ...You can only get a message sent to one county per subscriber. Things like this. What if you want more than one type of weather bulletin? What if they don't carry the bulletin that you want? What if you want a bulletin to cover multiple counties at once? With AC-EMWIN, you can have all of that. All you have to do is tell us what you want, and we can give it to you: one bulletin or more; one county or multiple counties; all day, or only during a certain PART of the day; the full bulletin, or in abbreviated form for pagers and things with limited character space allotments. We can do anything you need, and we can do it...FOR FREE.

Advantages of our system

  1. Speed.
    The other services on the internet overload themselves with such large customer databases (tens of thousands of users) that they can't handle it, and they don't let you know about it. We've tested our service against a number of other services and some are so bad that their bulletins are delayed up to twenty minutes. By then the storm is over with. We restrict our service to serve mostly our own local area (north and central Florida area). Our customer base isn't as high. Our server isn't overloaded.

  2. Customizeability.
    If it comes down the EMWIN downlink, we can probably send it to you. And we can often send you what other online systems don't offer. We can send you the full bulletin text or an abbreviated version for phones with 140-character limits. We can set up a cutoff time so that you're not bothered during certain times of the day. Can your current service do that?

  3. No service restrictions.
    Some services restrict who can use the service. We serve ANYone...the general public, firefighters, paramedics, EM personnel, Press agents, doctors, teachers...

  4. Years of experience.
    We've been doing this since 2002. We're not exactly the new kids on the block.

  5. It's for FREE!
    We don't ask for fees or dues.

We take bulletin dissemination seriously. We're not trying to make a profit off it. We're here to serve the public. That's our main mission. And we're entrenched. As we've said, we've been doing this for the local area (and some surrounding areas, too)

Anyone can use the AC-EMWIN data. For the email and/or text paging services, just let us know which products you're interested in and where you'd like them sent and we can set you up to receive them right away. If you would like us to do so, see Receiving Emails & Pages, or just send us an e-mail at acemwin@alachuaskywarn.org. To help you decide which products you want, please see our Text Products list.

We also have a number of updated Graphical Products available for viewing only. We are unable to e-mail the graphics to anyone, unfortunately.

NOTE: Users should recognize that while this system is a great convenience, it should NOT be considered as a replacement for the NOAA Weather Radio. That being said, it makes a darned awesome additional service!

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Need Help Incorporating!

So far, all operational and maintenance costs have been assumed by the Project Founder and Manager, Todd Sherman. However, upgrades are needed to make the system better by bringing the system up-to-date with current technology. For example, the GOES satellites have been upgraded to handle much higher data downlink speeds (19Kbaud, as compared to our current downlink speed of 9600 baud from an older satellite that will eventually be switched out). To receive the faster downlink data we need a special software-driven demodulator. We also need feedline for the satellite dish, and someone to set up the ground station equipment and to properly align it. We'd also like to provide system redundancy with duplicate satellite ground station and server equipment, and to provide backup power during longer term outages. This is currently far beyond our funding capability, alone. It would be nice to be able to accept grants and donations, and to be able to offer those who donate a Tax ID to use to get tax credit. If you are a lawyer and you would like to offer help in getting us set up, please contact Todd Sherman at acemwin-funding@alachuaskywarn.org.

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Alachua County EMWIN Project
E-mail: acemwin@alachuaskywarn.org
Page Created: February 10, 2003.
Last Updated: May 21, 2015.
Author/Webmaster: Todd L. Sherman / KB4MHH.

Copyright © 2003- by Alachua County SKYWARN.
All Rights Reserved.

Skywarn® and the Skywarn® logo are registered trademarks of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
used with permission in accordance with the NOAA/NWS SKYWARN Branding Guidelines.

AC-EMWIN Weather Bulletins Privacy Policy. (Required by Facebook. It's existence allows us to send our weather bulletins to various Facebook pages - including to a number of Northern Florida Emergency Manaagement Agencies.)


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