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Monday, 7th September 2009

Giving what people need

Thank you for the support from every one of you. The page visits at the Observatory website top 1.1 billion up to August this year. This is something unimaginable a few years back.

As I look at the August figures for the most popular pages in the website, equally unimaginable is the fact the "Time service" tops the list, with over 40 million visits in a month. The popularity, of course, can be attributed to the ease with which users set up their computers to receive synchronization signals from our atomic clock. This only requires a few clicks. You probably are aware that the Observatory's clock forms part of some 300 clocks around the world contributing to the determination of the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). It also faithfully gives the familiar 6-pip time signals on the radio for many, many years.

Second on the list is "Current weather", with over 27 million visits in August. It gives the latest temperature readings together with other information such as humidity, rainfall and UV (ultraviolet radiation) index. In view of its popularity, the Observatory embarked on a "One district one station" programme in 2007, with a view to ensuring at least one temperature station in each of the 18 districts in Hong Kong. The programme has been carried out in collaboration with the district councils and government departments, as well as in consultation with users such as the Friends of the Observatory. It will be completed with the implementation of two remaining stations within this couple of years.

Then come the "Weather warnings in force" and "Tropical cyclone track and position", each receiving about 10 million hits. Users of these webpages are obviously concerned at how severe weather including typhoons moves, develops and impacts on Hong Kong. For this, we continued to improve to our rainstorm and tropical cyclone forecasting in recent years. However, the colour and number systems, for rainstorm and tropical cyclone warnings respectively, are unlikely to satisfy the information needs of everybody as it is difficult to have one colour or number that fits all. We therefore have developed a number of products to aid users in their decision making.

One webpage that's worth mentioning is "Educational resources". Started a few years ago, it consists of articles prepared by Observatory colleagues on various topics that deal with science and technology. Written in layman terms, the articles attempt to address simple scientific questions that do not necessarily entail simple answers. New ones are added every quarter so much so that the website now contains hundreds of articles. It is now attracting over 1 million visits per month --- quite an amazing figure. I am sure visitors would find something new or useful each time (

We welcome your suggestions. Write to us at

B.Y. Lee

Last revision date: <17 Jan 2013>