mPING FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
We get questions!
- Q: I'm outside the area shown on your map. Can I still participate?
- A: Yes! We are gathering data from all over the world, please participate wherever you are! We are working on the ability to display data anywhere on the globe.
- Q: Are the reports anonymous?
- A: We have intentionally kept the database anonymous, so even we don't know who has entered the data and have no way to track it.
- Q: Can I report the intensity of precipitation?
- Q: What types of wintry precipitation are you interested in?
- A: All kinds of wintry precipitation! You can read more about the different types of winter precipitation here. We are especially interested in reports of when precipitation changes from one form to another. This is a problem we are trying to solve with new radar and forecasting techniques.
- Q: We have snow flurries, instead of snow. Why don't you add those to the list?
- A: We don't make a distinction between snow and snow flurries because mPING doesn't record intensity. Snow flurries still count as snow since that’s what is reaching the surface. Plus, we only have so much real estate to work with.
- Q: How often can I report?
- A: Every 30 seconds!
- Q: Are mPING reports sent to NWSChat? Are they QCed afterwards to eliminate bad reporters? Tracked?
- A: No, no, and no. Reporters are anonymous, so tracking is unavailable. QC extends only to ensuring the proper strings are sent. Reports in the new app versions are throttled to 1 per 30 s. Reports will be available on an AWIPS stream (AWIPS2 will be first). Overall, mPING reports are considered less trusted than trained spotter reports, but the power of mPING lies in crowdsourcing. Absent a county-wide (or even nationwide) conspiracy to corrupt the mPING data, crowdsourcing consistency essentially defines the first level QC process.
- Q: Is there any way to have daily mPING data available for implementation into programs such as GrX, Pykl3,etc. Basically like a National Weather Service (NWS) Local Storm Report (LSR)? I assume some kind of .php type place file?
- A: Nothing yet of any substance. We have some qualitative insights, but nothing that constitutes something easy and straightforward to interpret. There are a few people who have independently created such files and you can find them via various search engines. Since we have nothing to do with their efforts, we can’t vouch for how reliably their data are available.
- Q: Will the mPING project be ending at some time?
- A: We hope not! The reports are valuable to a variety of users, including the National Weather Service, and we use them for our research. We hope the project continues forever!
MOBILE APP AND DISPLAY QUESTIONS
- Q: My iPhone zoom doesn't work right on the mobile display page-- it zooms to a black screen/wrong place/crashes the browser. How can that be fixed?
- A: By design, the mobile display zoom is centered on your location. If your location information isn't being sent, then the zoom function has unpredictable outcomes. Location information may not be sent if you have ever said “no” to a request for location information in your browser, though there could be other causes, such as not enabling the location information within the device. Reset your iPhone/iPad then wait for the device to restart. Make sure your location services are enabled.
- Q: I'm in a bad location and can't get a GPS lock. My nearest cell tower is miles away, so the location defined for that service is inaccurate. But I know where I am on the map, so why not allow me to move the map to my location and set it there?
- A: While we could allow the user to select or adjust their location, but it would add complexity and another way for mis-reporting and location inaccuracy to make it into the database.
- Q: Where's a version of mPING for Windows phones?
- A: So far, we don't have one. We need to be able to maintain the app with updates as time requires. We wish we could include all platforms, but just can’t currently support them all. We want to expand our platform support in the future.
- Q: Wasn’t there a Web interface where we could enter our reports online?
- A: When the mPING app was launched, only 3% of our observations were coming through the Web interface. With security concerns, and keeping the Web form aligned with the mobile platform, it seemed the best use of our resources to focus on the mobile apps.