Crowdsourcing Weather Forecasts

Today, I came across with a mobile application, which seemed rather new to me, but it turns out they’re leaving their third year behind. The idea is simple, they collect data from their barometers in devices, creating a “high resolution pressure map”. It goes with the title “The weather’s future.”

It seems like manufacturers started adding barometers to their devices to improve GPS accuracy and altitude detection. These Canadian Developers, alongside with scientists from University of Washington, came up with a great idea. They realized that they can use the barometer data from millions of devices to reshape the way of weather forecasting.

Currently, they get 4 million reads in one day, and only a few specific devices have the barometer. For example, Apple smartphones did not have the equipment until iPhone 6. Having said that, you can install the app to a device without barometer. You can read the pressure data, and you can also share the actual weather: that’s just another part of the application. Users can share the current weather status (extremely windy, cloudy, rainy etc.) to the others.

Installing a new weather station is very expensive, and the data a station reads is only local. This app is indeed one good solution to this problem. It can be used to produce better forecasts. People with chronic migraine can use the app to be notified about sudden drops in the pressure. Another possible use is thunderstorm prediction, which heavily depends on pressure data. Scientists at Washington University recently published a paper the way they used PressureNet data to predict the weather.

Left: Barometer reads. Only 4 data present in Istanbul (the one near school is me!) Right: Weather shares. Only 1 is present in Turkey (and that’s the city of Antalya, maybe someone wanted to promote how clear the weather is around South, who knows)

As far as I know, it’s not yet available for iOS powered devices, but I think they will be developing one as Apple started putting barometers. If you have one of the following devices, or their respective upgraded models, you can contribute to the science! Get the app right here.

  • Galaxy S3, S4, S5
  • Galaxy Nexus
  • Galaxy Note, 2, 3
  • Nexus 4, 5, 6, 9, 10
  • Xoom
  • Xiaomi MI-2, MI-3
  • Droid Ultra
  • Moto X
  • HTC One (M8)

Let’s all see how this, and similar crowdsourcing applications, will continue changing the way we live.