Central Region Weather Services, Winnipeg, 1987

NOTE: The collage below first appeared in the February / March issue of Zephyr.  Weather Services Headquarters detected that office automation as well as forecasting computerization was taking place in Central Region faster than in other parts of AES.  From my viewpoint in the Program Policy area, this was clearly being led by Mike Balshaw, Regional Director.  Zephyr editor, Gordon Black, was dispatched to take photos and write an article, later titled Future Forum - Are you in Favour of Office Automation?.  Some photos in the collage have been cropped but they always include the then latest office automation equipment nearby.  Text sections from that article have been appended to each photo.  The entire article may be seen at this link in the February / March 1987 edition.

It is worth noting that other HQs admin areas such as the ADM's Office where I worked were not converted to full office automation, including connected computers on everyone's desk, until well into the 1990s.

Bob Jones

  EOS -  Electronic Office System (renamed DIALCOM)
METSIS - Meteorological Satellite Information System
MIDS - Meteorological Information Display System
MPDS -  Multi Purpose Display Station

Dale Henry, Acting Regional Director

Modern equipment like EOS (DIALCOM) enables us to maintain rapid office communication both with the Arctic and with national headquarters. We can now access data bases providing such vital information as overtime hours or data for monthly reports. Our communications with head office have improved considerably and we can respond to a parliamentary enquiry in minutes rather than days. We also have ultra-fast links to our High Arctic Weather Stations - a modern and efficient electronic mall service - a big change from having to wait three weeks for delivery by plane. Office technology in our region is keeping pace with weather technology - both require the very latest in modern communications. Nobody need feel threatened by the new techniques and all staff in our regions will feel buoyed up by being able to do a more efficient job - thanks to EOS, state of the art PCs or other innovations in the vanguard of the new office automation.

Jackie Bird, Secretary

The major change for me has been the replacement of the typewriter by the word processor. There have also been definite improvements in the telephone: speed call capability and quick access to conference calls to name two. In addition there will be input into financial and administrative programs. On the practical side, I like the word processor because it allows instant correction of all texts. I am very pleased that managers feel at ease operating the new equipment. Some, indeed, show a great deal of interest. But to me as a secretary, it's no kind of threat. And to say that sitting in front of a word processor screen is a health hazard is simply groping in the dark.

Bernie Aftanas, Head Computer Communications

Until now it has required 23 separate steps to send a simple message from management to a field office. This has been now reduced to three easy steps. A vast amount of information is needed every day to help achieve intelligent decision making. Electronic communications can certainly supply us with easier means to speed this data along and have it analysed automatically. What we have to do is avoid information overload and build our automated systems around the people using them. A proper implementation of office automation will ensure staff acceptance, resulting in increased productivity.

Gerard Shauf, Officer-In-Charge Broadview Weather Radar Station SK

Broadview is the only manned 24-hour weather radar station in AES. This affects the way shifts are divided up and who is in the office to receive messages from headquarters. For this type of communication, an EOS terminal is far superior to a telephone. Messages can be left for the next duty person at any time around the clock. I only type with two fingers myself. but this is sufficient for sending and replying to administrative memos. Not to be able to transmit at all makes AES personnel illiterate. The new messaging system creates a sort of communicating equality between the field station and head office (in Winnipeg).

Marv Pierce, Officer-in-Charge Winnipeg Weather Office

The first interactive computer terminal was installed in the Winnipeg Weather Office in 1978 inaugurating the era of office automation.  Today six interactive terminals in the operational unit comprising the Weather Office provide retrieval and display of all alpha numeric weather data. This network doubles as an administrative messaging system which allows the DIC to communicate with the separate operational units. This automation trend will continue. The Multi Purpose Display Station (MPDS) will revolutionize the way radar, satellite and weather map data is manipulated and displayed. Voice synthesis technology will have powerful impacts on weather data dissemination. The administration function of the office will also be largely automated. Functions related to pay, leave and to some degree staffing, will be administered in a Local Area Network with Regional Personnel's computer system. This should free our staff to meet increasing demands for basic weather services in a more efficient and effective way.

Tom Dame, Superintendent Financial Planning

The office has an IBM PC with a 20 megabyte hard disk. It has many relevant uses: for example, providing historical data on pay, stores and capital, supplying detailed inventory on all employee training, together with outstanding appraisals and classifications. The PC is linked to both EOs and the ENVOY electronic mail system. The former Is an excellent messaging machine but a possible disadvantage is that the vast majority of messages do not currently go on file in the Central Registry. On the other hand we're looking to optical character readers to computerize the Central Registry In the future.

Gail Piwniuk, Purchasing Officer

As a purchasing officer I definitely feel that office automatIon can help in the work place. Eventually computers will eliminate the enormous amount of paper work. Hopefully all this automation will make for a more efficient Purchasing Department. My daily work load Is evolving to meet technological changes and I am looking forward to even greater efficiencies due to office automation.

Jack Carpick, Superintendent Standards and Requirements

Frankly, I prefer the telephone. I like to discuss issues with all Weather Offices and obtain rapid Informat1on To my mind the very nature of weather services Is oral communication. EOS slows me down, makes me feel I am simply exchanging formal memos with other AES staff. We use conference calls when communicating between Weather Offices and the Weather Centre and I'm all for this. When a pilot enters a weather office there's nothing to beat direct, verbal communication with the briefer. I may be bucking the trend but somehow I feel Ihat EOS Is like operating in an impersonal vacuum and in slow motion although It does have its place In certain applications.

Office-In-Charge, Resolute Weather Office

At Resolute we use MIDS and METSIS for efficient transmission of weather data, and now we have EOS for all other forms of communication. I tell you it's a boom. It's like going to your front door once a day and picking up the mail. Despite our great isolation, it takes only minutes to communicate with the Regional AES office in Winnipeg. (It used to take around 10 days by plane and long distance truck). We can also correspond instantly with another High Arctic Station like Mould Bay, instead of waiting up to three weeks for an air mail flight. I like EOS because it is fast. confidential and very economical. It beats cluttering up expensive telephone lines any day. Thanks to EOS or other state-of-the-art desktop equipment, we can now underline the word office every time we say "weather office".

Missing:  Mike Balshaw

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