Two weeks ago, I participated in a United Nations Development Program workshop in Zambia. The CIRDA project is working with 11 African countries to improve the meteorological capacity of those countries in terms of observation networks, services and specifically information dissemination and interactions with public institutions and private enterprise. The fundamental challenge being that country meteorological offices are struggling to deliver quality, affordable information and there is a risk of them being marginalized by private global weather companies filling that gap – albeit using satellite derived data. I was invited to speak to the group about aWhere’s experience deploying agricultural weather solutions and how a private company could leverage high quality observed data, forecasts and extreme weather warnings from a national meteorological service.
Click here to read the presentation in its entirety.
There was also a hackathon associated with the event. The hackers already had access to several country data sets, Columbia University International Research Institute for Climate and Society data, and two private company API’s (Earth Network’s and UbiMet). Though aWhere was a late addition to the program once we found out they had a hackathon I offered them use of our API. I reviewed our API and our agronomic concepts with the teams 24 hours before they were to present and 4 out of the 5 teams switched to our API! While this is yet again testimony to our team’s implementation of a rock solid platform that is super easy to integrate, it is also a testimony to what could be achieved by a local Met organization with easy to use API’s around their data. Check out one of the team’s blogs expressing appreciation for our support. The teams had no time to compare data, but they were enabled by an easy to use platform. The value of easy to access data cannot be underestimated. As part of the UNDP CIRDA project this would be an enormous enabler of innovation and value creation. The key is to make data not just technically easy to integrate – but also to support multiple business models and price data in appropriate ways for organizations justify the cost versus the value the additional information brings to their customers.
Overall this is a really exciting program and we look forward to quality data from African meteorological offices being available to much broader audiences.