Mobile technology continues to provide smarter, faster and more convenient ways to interact with the most important services in our lives - and what could be more important than the weather? It impacts every aspect of our lives, for millions of people, here in the UK.
For over 160 years, the Met Office has led the field in weather and climate forecasting, fulfilling its role as the UK’s national weather service in order to protect the public, ensuring our wellbeing and prosperity. Today, delivering that service - wherever the public needs it - means rethinking weather services around mobile-enabled users.
Increasing speed to value
The Met Office had already begun preliminary work on a new mobile app, defining user requirements and laying the groundwork prior to bringing in The App Business to work as part of a blended, co-located team delivering end-to-end services.
This joint Agile approach enabled us to whittle a large list of desired features down to three core areas of functionality: weather forecasts, severe weather warnings and weather alerts. These features defined the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) - successfully launched on schedule in January 2016.
Upon opening, the app quickly determines a user’s current location and presents an immediate ‘snapshot’ of the weather wherever they are - serving up just the right amount of information users need to plan their day. Those needing a more detailed view need only tap on a snapshot to gain access to scientific weather data. Users can also save multiple locations to see the weather in the places they care about most.
Knowing about severe weather in advance means people can better plan and prepare, protecting their livelihood and their own wellbeing. The Met Office is the UK’s official source for National Severe Weather Warnings, so it was imperative that this information be a core aspect of the app from the outset. All of a user’s saved locations receive warnings as soon as the Met Office issues them.
Personalised push notifications alert users of severe weather in real time. Making push notifications timely and relevant ensures that when a storm happens the Met Office can inform people - fast.
Engineering the Weather Cloud
As part of a separate engineering project, the team has also laid the critical foundation for future-proofing the delivery of the Met Office’s services.
Underpinning the Met Office’s digital channels is a bleeding-edge, Cloud-based middleware layer fully engineered by The App Business. Aptly named the Weather Cloud, this purpose-built platform optimises complex weather and scientific data for a range of Met Office platforms.
Highly scalable, this smart software layer enables the Met Office to serve up data across channels and devices, wherever the public need them. Today, that might mean smartphones - but tomorrow, it could be inside your car, or your home.
Ready to listen, learn and adapt
Core to the delivery of both projects has been the adoption of an iterative Agile approach. This methodology, championed by The App Business, injects increased speed and responsiveness, with a relentless focus on the cost-effective creation of value. The process of embedding agility has been additionally optimised by co-locating cross-functional, blended teams from both organisations so that staff can work side-by-side. This close partnership is a critical prerequisite in the creation and delivery of high quality software - especially with a tight deadline in mind.
With an exciting, young MVP product now live and in the wild, and the Weather Cloud in action behind the scenes, this is just the start of the iterative journey towards delivering the best weather services available on mobile.
"The App Business and the Met Office partnership has been a real success – this could not have been achieved without The App Business’ specialist mobile expertise, collaborative approach and the sheer agility and velocity with which they work."
Head of Digital Media, Met Office