Let it snow… Twitter becomes a weather service

I’m a bit of a Twitter fan.  Even I didn’t think I’d ever look at twitter for a weather report though.

As those of us in the UK will know, there’s some pretty cold weather here at the moment with snow being predicted over the next few days.  This afternoon I started seeing a few people I know from Seloc tweeting about snow where they were.  After a while I started seeing people using a twitter hashtag of #uksnow. Great idea, by reading all the tweets with that hash I could read where it was snowing the most.  This data was initially collected via Hashtags.org but we found a better solution in the hashtag tracker from BrandMentions – this also covers Instagram as well as Twitter.

It’s now 11pm and I’m watching CSI and thinking about going to bed. Seeing as I have a 50 mile commute in the morning I thought I’d logon and see how the weather is looking.  In the space of a few hours the #uksnow tweets have organised themselves into a format of post code plus heaviness of snow out of 10 – so something like ‘#uksnow KT22 5/10’

With the info being in a known format, some enterprising chap has mashed-up the tweets with google maps so you can now see where the snow is falling.  All based on the real-time info posted on twitter.  Its impressive stuff – especially seeing how it evolved over a few hours!  A good example of how crowdsourcing can work for a common cause.  If you can get the information into a known and structured data set it can be used in so many different ways.

#uksnow weather mashup

Check it out:  http://uksnow.benmarsh.co.uk/ (original link http://www.benmarsh.co.uk/snow/)

Update… some more info on how it all came together courtesy of Paul Clarke: http://honestlyreal.wordpress.com/2009/02/01/a-flurry-of-uksnow/

Update 2:  there’s now an updated page at http://uksnow.benmarsh.co.uk/

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  1. If you want to read more about the evolution of this meme, and particularly how the bit on standards came about, have a look at http://is.gd/i0wy

    I’ve never met nor heard of Ben Marsh. Neither of us know who started the hashtag (I certainly don’t). But look what happened when it all came together… Just through the power of information.

  2. Hi Paul, thanks for the comment – it’s quite a story eh? It’s interesting to see how these things develop, with a miix of skills coming together through people that have never spoken let alone met. I’ll add a link to your blog on the post.

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