Recent advances in microelectronics and wireless networks have seen the rise of Internet of Things (IoT). The term Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a network of physical and virtual objects attached with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable objects to achieve greater value and service by exchanging data with other connected objects via the Internet (Accenture, 2014). IoT devices have found application in a wide range of everyday life applications such as environmental monitoring, battlefield and harsh areas surveillance, healthcare and agriculture applications. In agriculture for example, monitoring drought and providing timely seasonal forecasts and advice to farmers are essential for managing drought risk especially in a developing country like Kenya, where livelihoods are closely intertwined with climate variability (Amissah-Arthur, 2003; Hansen, Defries, Townshend, & Sohlberg, 2000; Hayes, Wilhelmi, & Knutson, 2004; Pozzi et al., 2013). Knowledge of long-term rainfall variability and weather is essential for water-resource and land-use management in arid and semi-arid regions of Kenya. However, the data relevant to this variability is scarce due to lack of long instrumental climate records. Current approaches in drought monitoring and weather forecasting in developing countries have been hampered by prohibitive internet costs, unreliable mobile networks and poor access to technology that prevents the development of systems locally. In addition, there is generally low institutional capacity and lack of national policy on drought mitigation. Therefore, there is a need for a technological platform that can easily be used by the Kenya Meteorological Department to disseminate weather-related information to people country-wide.
The Kenya Meteorological Department was established to assist the public by providing meteorological and climatological services to various users in different fields such as: agriculture, forestry, water resources management, civil aviation, military aviation, organization and administration of surface and upper air meteorological observations; evolvement of suitable training programs in all fields of meteorology and other related scientific subjects.
Current technological innovations focus largely on the efficient monitoring and control of different activities. One of the activities that requires monitoring and forecasting is weather monitoring. This is achieved when relevant objects in the environment are attached to sensors that enable a self-monitoring and self-managing environment. This type of environment is referred to as a smart environment (B.S. Rao, K.S. Rao & Ome, 2016). Weather forecasting is a prime example of an area that would benefit from smart environment technology (B.S. Rao, K.S. Rao & Ome, 2016). Internet of Things technology is in the development of smart environments. Given the numerous advantages that this new technology has brought to the new age of computing, in terms of monitoring and forecasting, it is an opportunity to take advantage of the Internet of Things technology to address the problem of poor dissemination of weather information. The IoT technology used in formulating the suggested framework was the wireless sensor networks, which have already been used and tested in different fields such as monitoring of fire, flooding, air condition change or hazardous material leak, among others.
Wireless Sensor Networks are built from a number of small spatially dispersed sensor nodes, each with limited processing capacity and memory, which transmit data in digital form to a base station (Akyildiz, Su, Sankarasubramaniam, & Cayirci, 2002). The sensors are mobile and can record and store data until they come again in range of the base station and transmit the stored data. Wireless Sensor Networks systems can be equipped with various types of sensors, to measure environmental parameters such as temperature, humidity, and volatile compound detection to monitor different areas of the environment (Callaway, 2004). The base station collects data from multiple sensors and sends it via a mobile network such as GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) to a central server. When a change occurs in the environment, an alert is sent automatically to the intended systems.
This research study therefore focused on the design of a framework that would enable efficient weather forecasting in Kenya. This would enable the required parameters to be monitored remotely using internet and the data gathered from the sensors is then stored in a server.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
The Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) has been tasked with providing regular weather forecasts for more than 50 years. This is because weather forecasts are very crucial, especially in our day to day life; the output is used in decision making by decision makers at organizational levels as well as by individuals. Currently the Government of Kenya uses expensive weather stations, which are sparsely deployed in form of relatively small number of fixed locations to provide climate maps for droughts and other natural disasters prediction. KMD runs three main types of stations that are currently managed by the Climatological Section of the Department which include 700 rainfall stations, 62 temperature stations and 27 synoptic stations (Kenya Meteorological Department, 2017).
The KMD has been faced with several challenges in the weather forecasting practices, these weaknesses exist particularly in the application of meteorological information in the decision-making processes of the climate-sensitive sectors. However, the department is still facing challenges such as: lack of awareness of the vulnerable farmers on impacts of climate change, lack of weather stations in some areas prone to natural disasters, dissemination of meteorological information not sourced from Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) by some media houses and limited contact with the end users of the climate information. One of the recommendations of the East African Community (EAC) report (2008) was that KMD requires funds to acquire, install and maintain the relevant observation and display instruments in areas prone to formation of fog that endangers road users. Hence there is a need for KMD to adopt Internet of Things (IoT) in its weather forecasting practices. This study sought to fill the existing research gap above by examining the challenges of the current weather forecasting practices and subsequently developing a framework that would enable the adoption of IoT technology by the Kenya Meteorological Department. Evaluation of the benefits of the adoption of IoT in weather-forecasting practices in other countries was also done.
1.3. Purpose of the Study
1.3.1. General Objective
The main objective of this research was to develop a framework that would enable the adoption of the Internet of Things technology by the Kenya Meteorological Department in order to carry out their weather forecasting practices efficiently.
1.3.2. Specific Objectives
i. To identify the IOT-related technological challenges of the current weather forecasting practices currently faced by Kenya Meteorological Department.
ii. To develop a framework that enables the adoption of IoT in the weather forecasting practices carried out by Kenya Meteorological Department.
iii. To evaluate the framework in relation to adoption of IoT in weather forecasting practices by Kenya Meteorological Department.
1.4. Significance of the Study
Accuracy of weather monitoring and forecasting directly or indirectly influences various sectors of economy including agricultural sector and transportation sector. This raises the need for a system that facilitates higher accuracy of real time monitoring and future weather prediction. This study looked at the technological challenges currently being faced by the KMD in their current weather forecasting practices, with a view to address them through the development of a framework that would enable the adoption of IoT. By leveraging on the use of IoT, the Kenya Meteorological Department will be able to forecast and disseminate information related to weather forecasting to various sectors such as the agricultural sector more accurately.
1.5. Scope of the Study
This was an exploratory study that proposed the design of a framework that would enable the adoption of IoT technology by the Kenya Meteorological Department. The adoption of IoT would solve the technological weather forecasting challenges currently being faced. It did not include the implementation of the Internet of Things technology.
1.6. Definition of Terms
• Internet of Things (IoT)
This refers to a system of related computing devices and machines that may be embedded in a nimals or people, that have unique identifiers to capture and transfer data over a network without requiring human intervention or human-to-computer interaction (Accenture, 2014).
• Wireless Sensor Networks
A Wireless Sensor Network is a network that is made up of of many wireless sensors, which collect, store, processenvironmental information, and communicate this information to the neighboring environment (Mahalik, 2007).
• Smart Environment
This is an environment that is richly and invisibly interwoven with sensors that are networked to each other and embedded seamlessly in the everyday objects of our lives (B.S. Rao, K.S. Rao & N. Ome, 2016).
This is a device that detects or measures a physical property and uses this information to record, indicate, or otherwise respond to the environment (Akyildiz, Su, Sankarasubramaniam, & Cayirci, 2002).
This is a network node that connects two or more networks that use different protocols (Mahalik, 2007).
• Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID)
This is an IoT technology that uses radio waves to read and capture information stored on a tag that has been attached to an object (Powell& Shim, 2009).
1.7. Chapter Summary
This chapter has given the background of this study as well as an overview of the Internet of Things technology. It has covered several topics such as the main purpose of this study, identified the problem statement of the study as well as assessed the scope of study. The following chapter will focus on the literature review of factors influencing the adoption of the IoT technology by the Kenya Meteorological Department.