Thursday, 16 May 2013

Google should make weather alerts

I have two active weather alert systems set up: one to tell me when it's raining and I should bring an umbrella, and another from the Early Warning Network to email me any official Severe Weather Warning alerts issued by the Bureau of Meteorology. This means I get two emails when it's going to rain severely, and also that those alerts look exactly like normal email. What I really need is a single app on my phone that can provide me custom alerts for ordinary or severe weather on my phone without looking just like email. I want to know when the BOM thinks it will rain and when it thinks the weather is so severe that nobody should go outside. I imagine little weather icons in my Android alerts bar.

Now, the EWN does supply an app for severe weather warnings, but that doesn't give ordinary rain warnings. There are plenty of weather widgets for Android, but these take up a lot of screen space and you have to remember to check them. And while there are plenty of weather apps available, it's not clear whether they work in my area. That's because weather forecasts are provided worldwide by lots of different agencies in lots of different formats and it takes some effort to sort them out. More effort than many companies would like to put in.

You know who is uniquely positioned to organise the world's weather information? Google. They could integrate it with Maps, gathering and publishing local weather forecasts from known sources and assembling them into a worldwide KML map file of current and predicted weather conditions, all available as an online API. Then the only thing left for the app to do is consult the API and present the information to users.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - If anyone knows of a good weather alert app that works in Australia, please let me know.
PPS - It has to alert on both severe weather and ordinary rain.

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