“We’re going out to the provinces of Takeo, Kampong Cham and Kandal today to go check on the stations,” Mr. Hon said. A crucial part of his role, Mr. Hon and his team at the Department of Meteorology need to ensure the department’s 24 automatic weather stations, constructed as part of a UNDP partnership, are providing accurate data. Mr Hon explained how it works: “We receive the data from the stations, and make sure that all of the systems are operational and maintained. If there is an issue we solve the problem. Sometimes we find the solution and other times we need to call for support.”
Born in Siem Reap, Mr. Hon moved to Phnom Penh in 1998 to study information technology (IT) at what is now known as the National University of Management. Once he finished his degree, he worked in the private sector before commencing with the Department of Meteorology in 2011.
Mr. Hon demonstrates the type of adaptability often found across members of the Department of Meteorology. “I have done several trainings, but most things I have learned on the job. I have learned about operations, management and maintenance [of the department’s systems]. I always enjoy working in the department, there are so many things to do. In other places, people have specific jobs and only do those jobs. But here in Cambodia, we have many jobs to do and if we can do one of the other jobs, we do it!”
The Systems Support team at the department play a vital, but often unrecognised role, in providing the country’s weather forecasts. In the field, they often clear grass and fix stations by hand under Cambodia’s scorching sun. Back in the office, they are just as essential. As Mr. Hon states, “My job is very important in the Department of Meteorology. There is a lot of data that comes from the satellites, the radar, the Automatic Weather Stations and we need a place to bring all that data together to display to the forecasters. Without IT, we can’t get the data from the other side of the world or from on the ground. Without us, the forecasters can’t get accurate data.”