December 2, 2011

WBEA’s new electronic message centre for the display of the regional Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) became operational on November 22, 2011. It is located at WBEA headquarters on the corner of Thickwood Blvd. and Signal Road, in Fort McMurray. In this location the message centre is viewed by many residents of the community every day.

WBEA displays the AQHI numbers for the four WBEA community stations that currently report AQHI; Fort McMurray, Fort McKay, Fort McKay South, and Fort Chipewyan. The display is set up to reflect the appropriate AQHI colour as a background to the AQHI number; ie. Green for low risk (1-3), yellow for moderate risk (4-6), and red for high risk (7-10). The reading for each station is displayed for 8 seconds with a time/date and temperature screen also in the display loop.

The AQHI used on the sign is pulled, indirectly, from the Alberta Environment and Water (AENW) web service. Because the sign requires other information (i.e. the image for the corresponding AQHI), a service running on WBEA’s server pulls the AQHI from the AENW web service, and then generates its own output which is displayed on the sign.

The sign uses an XML feed which runs on WBEA’s website. It can be seen at:http://wbea.org/rss/AQHI.xml. The sign polls the site at a user defined interval, and has an internet connection to ensure that the latest air quality information is being used. WBEA polls the data every minute, even though the AQHI is only updated every hour. This avoids missing an update or a change in the readings.

WBEA worked with the Cygnus Group for the message centre design and installation.  The sign was manufactured by Daktronics and is a Galaxy 20mm RGB display with Visiconn control and software.

The following are the display screens for the 4 community stations reporting the AQHI: