In 1991 the Australian rock group Crowded House wrote the song “Weather with You” with its popular refrain “Everywhere you go, always take the weather with you". Whatever meaning the band put in this line of lyrics 30 years ago, it represents nicely today’s situation when so many people have the weather (apps) on their smartphones.
It is indeed possible nowadays to take the weather with you wherever you go, thanks to the hundreds and thousands of weather apps available through the popular app stores. This has definitely changed the way people access and use weather information in their daily activities. Weather apps do more than just tell users what is set to happen – they can be vital decision-making tools in critical situations. This means that app development is a crucial link in the weather and climate service delivery chain. However, the huge variety of functionality, quality and usefulness of these mobile apps presents challenges to both users and information providers.
Weather forecasting has been a field of intensive innovation for centuries. This innovation has been stimulated and encouraged by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) ever since its creation in 1950. Many stakeholders from the public sector - the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, from the private sector - the weather companies, and from academia - universities and research institutions, have contributed to those innovations, thanks to which we now do take the weather with us all the time.
WMO wants to provide recognition, and stimulate the development, of ever-improving mobile-based applications for weather and climate information. The “WMO International Weather Apps Awards (WIWAA)” will be issued for the first time in 2020 as part of the celebrations of the organization’s 70th anniversary. The idea of these awards is to invite developers to participate by submitting their apps for review by an independent international jury. Depending on the success of this first event, the WIWAA may become a regular annual event in the years to come.
The awards will underscore the importance of sharing know-how and innovation in providing services to society, through identifying and recognising high standards and good practices for weather apps. A special focus will be given to the situation of developing countries where people have less access to vital weather and climate information. The aim is to stimulate app development for those countries through collaborative partnerships between National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, the private sector and academia.
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Meteorological Technology International speaks with Gerald Fleming, chair of the international jury for the WMO’s Weather App Awards 2020, which aims to accelerate app technology and honor solutions that combine great science with great design, find more details here.