Lots of people know about the various serices that will page or email you when there is a severe storm threatening your area. Something new that I just heard about tonight is a service called StormCall which will actually call you on the phone and warn about severe weather.

StormCall seems really designed to be pushed by local tv stations. This is a genius marketing idea. First, the local tv stations pays StormCall to get things setup. Next, the tv station “advertises” it on newscasts and with public service announcements (PSAs) all of which amounts to free advertising for StormCall. Finally, StormCall charges a yearly subscription fee to viewers who sign up for the service. This is quite an interesting business model and the reliance on gratis advertising is truly genius.

All StormCall is doing is mathing the address entered by a subscriber to a latitude/longitude. When the National Weather Service issues a warning which includes that location StormCall calls you and plays a friendly message from your local tv station’s chief meteorologist warning you and reminding you to turn on channel X for more information.

I would like to see an implementation of this using the free and open-source Asterisk PBX. I think it would be a great piece of demo software showing off the versitility of Asterisk and it would be fun too. Instead of a pre-recorded message you could have the Asterisk text to speech engine read the actual storm warning from the NWS. You could also show off the IVR capabilities by allowing users to sign up for the service via telephone so no end-user internet access is required. The NWS already provides free severe weather data so it would just be a matter of getting that data stream into some program to parse it and find the appropriate people to call. I think it would make an interesting project anyway.

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