What The Weather Can Teach Us About Open Data | Articles | Chief Data Officer | Innovation Enterprise
ab1630's bookmarks 2018-03-10
"Ken Mylne is the Head of Weather Science Numerical Modelling at the Met Office, the United Kingdom’s national weather service. Naturally, these services rely heavily on data to predict what the weather is most likely to be like days and even weeks in advance. The Met Office also works with data to predict the potential impact of global warming some way down the line, and it is sophisticated in how it handles and analyses the vast datasets it both records itself and is given by international partners. We sat down with Ken to discuss the necessity for open data in the weather industry, the general shift towards open data in business, and the role of government in driving open data projects forward.
Hi Ken, so how important is it for organizations to open up their datasets, in your industry and in every industry?
Well, I think it’s probably fair to say that meteorology has been doing that for generations. And the reason for that is that weather does not know national boundaries – it’s a global business. We can only forecast the weather for the UK by knowing what the weather is doing over in the United States, and over the whole of the world, actually. Now, certainly, to be able to predict more than a day or so ahead, we need to know what’s happening a long way upstream.
So, sharing data has been at the core of meteorology for a hundred years or more. We have a United Nations agency, called the World Meteorological Organization, that has 191 member states’ met services, which has the prime purpose of the sharing of meteorological data.
When you’re sharing data internationally, in different communities, are there challenges around that? Are there standard practices that need to be followed?
Of course, yeah. And technology is at the forefront of that. But, yes, standard practices – we’ve been defining standard codes, standard ways of providing and sharing data, since way before most industries had even thought about the need for that sort of thing, because of this need to exchange data freely. So, the World Meteorological Organization is central to defining codes for sharing data. And the Met Office, as a major member of WMO, has been very involved in that for many decades, and still is....
And, finally, do you think governments are moving forward with their open data programs?
Yes, and our whole change of strategy is consistent with that. There is generally a view that making more data available, making it more open, gives opportunities for industry to find new value in information that we might never have found otherwise, and getting different organizations working closely together.
So, just to give one example, we are involved in a partnership in the UK called the Natural Hazards Partnership, which is bringing together lots of different government organizations such as the British Geological Survey, the Met Office of course, and the Environment Agency, working together sharing data in common formats to make all our data more easily accessible. But, also, to see how we can address problems with natural hazards in a common framework so that everybody can benefit from it in the same way. So, that’s an example of different government organizations working closely together, around data, making it more freely available, and working on common standards and things. Of course, having common standards helps everyone to access it better. "