Posts Tagged ‘crowdsourcing’

Waze’s big exit to Google proved one thing: if
companies can harness the power of the crowd to
deliver real-time, granular data, big tech corporations
will be watching them closely as potential acquisition
targets. There’s another category ripe for the picking,
even if the problem being solved isn’t as apparent or immediately useful as traffic and navigation data:
weather. A few apps are trying to harness the crowd
to provide accurate, ground-level forecasts and
conditions, and they’re catching on with consumers,
too. Montreal-based startup SkyMotion is one such firm,
and it recently launched its 4.0 update, which not only
harnesses crowdsourced weather reports, but also
allows other businesses to plug into that data using a
public API, to integrate real-time reporting data from
SkyMotion’s users into their own products. That provides an up-to-the-minute forecast, one that
probably won’t show you weather conditions
completely dissimilar from the ones you’re actually
feeling outside at any given moment, as can still be
the case with apps that pull weather data only from
specific weather monitoring stations. SkyMotion has had considerable success harnessing
the crowd to populate its real-time forecasts, with
over 200,000 people currently submitting observations
according to the company. Over 50 percent of those
who download the app actually keep it and use it, and
65 percent of all users are active between 15 and 200 times per month. The company is now close to
reaching 500,000 total downloads, and anticipates
being well over 1 million by the end of the year should
the pace remain near its current rate. SkyMotion isn’t alone in crowdsourcing weather data.
There’s also Weddar, the “people-powered” weather
service and mobile app that encourages location-
based reporting with a very human element, since it
asks people how conditions generally feel on the
ground, instead of seeking out specifics. The Weddar team, which is based in Portugal, launched its app
back in April 2011, and where once you’d be hard-
pressed to find anyone using it outside of its home
market, now you’ll probably see results just about
anywhere you open it up. Crowsourced weather data could appeal to big tech
companies for the same reason that crowdsourced
data does; it greatly improves the quality of
consumer-facing products. But it also offers a lot
more besides, by providing services that can be
combined with other local data including maps and traffic, as well as shopping and advertising
information, to give a much more accurate, much
more complete snapshot of any given location at any
given time. Weather affects everything from the
average user’s day planning, to marketing, to
budgeting, and companies that are improving the quality of that data will no doubt be on the radar of
anyone who makes those things its concern.