Forest Service Awards Contract for Web-Based Tools

The National Forest Service has awarded a contract to develop Web interfaces for its mainframe-based Weather Information Management System (WIMS), which helps project the potential severity of fires such as the 79 that this year have burned 1.4 million acres in the Western U.S.

Mike Barrowcliff, group leader for the Forest Services' National Fire System Group at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, said the new Web front end to WIMS will make it easier for users to access the current and historical weather data in WIMS, which is hosted on IBM mainframes located at the Department of Agriculture computer center in Kansas City, Mo.

Barrowcliff said the weather information is a key management tool for fire managers in the field and at the multistate and federal agency's fire command center in Boise because "it helps calculate fire danger rating indices and is used to project fire severity." John Housman, chief operating officer at Enterprise Integration Corp. in New Orleans, which won the $400,000 WIMS upgrade contract Monday, said his company will develop the Web-enabled front end to the WIMS data, which is currently accessible only through old IBM-type 3270 terminals. Housman said his company would replace 43 SQL menus on WIMS with HTML interfaces that can access the underlying Cobol code.

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