Met Office revamps crowdsourced IoT weather platform

Met Office revamps crowdsourced IoT weather platform
Met Office revamps crowdsourced IoT weather platform

The Met Office is experimenting with IoT and Big Data for more accurate weather predictions.

The Met Office plans to relaunch its Weather Observation Website (WOW) in April to make better use of the Internet of Things (IoT).

WOW was launched back in 2011 as a crowd-sourced, open, environmental data collection platform, but the site is now beginning to show its age.

WOW enables amateur weather observers to publically submit their readings online, but generating relevant insights from this data is more challenging. As such, the WOW relaunch will see the service build on the Internet of Things (IoT) by embracing a full set of APIs, meaning users can manipulate data openly. Ultimately, the service could enable the development of innovative new, weather applications and make use of smart city data.

Simon Gilbert, ?head of observations partnerships at the Met Office, believes that the new version of WOW will improve upon a service that has already seen over half a billion observations submitted by amateur weather enthusiasts across the globe.

“Using API technology it will be possible to quickly and easily ingest new sources of observational data which will be managed, stored and visualised through a variety of channels,” he said. “The WOW Engine will incorporate the ability to capture complex metadata as default and will comply with the WMO WIGOS Metadata principles, thus allowing users to benefit from the potential of WIGOS to create a ‘network of networks’, a truly Integrated Observing System.”

Predicting the weather is a hugely difficult task and the Met Office, as one of the world’s leading meteorological institutions, has a history of embracing new technology in order to aid their forecasting. The Met Office is currently building the world’s most powerful operational supercomputer, to be housed in a purpose-built complex within Exeter Science Park.

IoT needs a supercomputer

“Because of the nature and size of the operation we do, the maths itself expresses that a supercomputer is the only thing that can do the job,” explained Met Office CIO Charles Ewen at the IoT Tech Expo conference last week. “I could rent a supercomputer from the cloud, but [the Met Office] can run a supercomputer more effectively than the cloud vendors can.”

What’s more, with WOW and the Internet of Things (IoT) facilitating an increase in publicly available weather data, the Met Office’s need for a supercomputer is only likely to grow.

Speaking at the London event late last week, Ewen said that extracting information is key to IoT data management, saying that he expects the Met Office to process exabytes of data by 2018.