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. The
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, and a subsequent criminal investigation was severely
snafoo'd by UPD investigators, the equipment was removed to another much safer location.
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. 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!
Bulletin users past and present include agencies such as Gainesville Fire &
Rescue, various emergency management agency personnel (locally and
in surrounding counties), 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 (the AC-SKYWARN Email Alert List,
the ACEMWIN-HURR-L Hurricane Bulletins List,
the SKYWARN-L list,
and the ACWIN-* series of listgroups, for some
examples), and also to Facebook pages (AC-SKYWARN,
and Bradford Co,
and Holmes Co
EMAs; and the Hurricane Bulletins - Florida
page), Twitter pages such as the AC-EMWIN Twitter site and
the ACWIN-KGNV METARs site. Even
daily, agencies such as TV-20, the Gainesville Sun, and The Sky 97.3 FM can
be seen to be 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 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, and the
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
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.
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?
- 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...
- Years of experience.
We've been doing this since 2002. We're not exactly the new kids on the block.
- 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
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
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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
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