Richard Carne, Chief Digital Officer at the Met Office, explains why the organisation is looking forward to working with our Data Pitch startups to create new solutions to its big data challenge.

As the National Meteorological service for the UK with a global capability in the generation of weather and climate information, the Met Office delivers critical data to industries including defence, energy, transport, civil contingency, and aviation.

The Met Office also provides world-class guidance on climate change and is the primary focus in the UK for climate science. All of this contributes towards the protection, prosperity and well-being of the UK and its citizens.  

The Met Office uses two operational supercomputers, in an on-premises environment that features numerical weather models. These models apply the laws of physics to more than 300 million daily atmospheric observations.

Each day, the organization performs 20 quadrillion calculations and generates more than 4 million forecasts, which make up around 200Tb of data per day. We push around 20Tb of this “operational” data to our AWS cloud platform to make it easier and faster to access.

At the Met Office, we believe in sharing our data and enabling others to use it.  Our corporate strategy for data is clear: To “Improve the management of Met Office data as a critical asset and continuously enhance its availability and usability”. We see our involvement with Data Pitch as a key to making data more available and useable. We are also driven by the Government Industrial Strategy and committed to supporting the generation of socio-economic benefits and the release of value from our data.   

We are doing this through the development of a platform which makes it easier to access, process and derive insight from our data. This will be in the form of a range of APIs and software aimed at making our data more useful and useable. It’s our hope that participants of DataPitch will generate further value through the development of applications and services that serve the public, as well as giving us insight into how to develop our platform and service offering to a range of industry users.

Our data works well when integrated with other data, so we would like to see how greater value can be released through combining multi-source data. This will also help us improve our data structure and access mechanisms by uncovering challenges in linking disparate data sets.

We don’t want to limit the imagination of the startups by putting too much control around the requirements.  We just ask that their idea fits into the general strategy of releasing value from Met Office Data, and that this  value supports UK citizens, by making life easier, protecting them, helping them prosper or improving well-being.  

We are also keen to take ideas and move them into operational capability, and we will be exploring how the Met Office could partner with startups to deliver their vision in the real world – for example by using our Cloud Platform to run elements of their application or working with marketing and business development to drive adoption.

Whilst we have offered access to a specific data set centered around pollen forecasting this is just one of the data offerings that is available along with a range of tools for the manipulation and processing of our data. All of these will be provided to DataPitch participants, and we also have experience of developing new markets and can support the innovation process through our product development team. In addition, we operate an R&D function in our Informatics Lab, and members of this team will also be available to provide support for using our data in new and innovative ways.

We are very much looking forward to meeting the startups that have made it through the first stage of the process and to working with the Data Pitch team to select those who will go on to collaborate with us in the next six months and make their ideas a reality.