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Weather forecasts as digital public goods can have great significance for people in Africa, especially farmers and fishermen who depend on knowing what the weather will be like. From Tigray, Ethiopia. Photo: Gunnar Zachrisen., Foto: Gunnar Zachrisen.

Weather data from MET Norway approved as Digital Public Goods

The data under the hood of Yr has been approved as a digital public good, as the first of its kind. The Digital Public Goods Alliance, led by UNICEF (UN), is responsible for the approval.

The data available on  MET Norway Weather API provides digital public good access to user-friendly 10-day weather forecasts of high quality all over the world. The data is open and freely available on a platform others can build on top of. Use of these data can be new services and / or digital public goods. For example, Norwegian Broadcasting Company and the Norwegian Meteorological Institute have built Yr on top of the MET Norway Weather API, but mainly aimed at Norwegian users.

Great significance

Competence building in Mosambik. Photo: Kristine Gjesdal / Meteorologisk institutt.
Competence building in Mosambik. Photo: Kristine Gjesdal / MET Norway.

Weather forecasts as a digital public goods can have great significance for people in Africa, among other places, especially farmers and fishermen who really benefit from knowing what the weather will be like. For them, it is about having enough food on the family’s table. A farmer in Ethiopia must know when the rainy season starts to decide when he or she should sow, and a fisherman on Lake Malawi must know if the weather is calm enough to go fishing. Many farmers across Africa rely on traditional knowledge about weather and climate, but with climate change this knowledge is being challenged, and the weather that was previously stable is no longer so. The rain no longer comes when it usually does and the weather signs can be unreliable.

– Open weather data contributes to accurate and reliable weather forecasts around the globe, and this is important for those who have to adapt to climate change. A weather forecast is not complete until it is received, understood and included in a decision-making process, says Jørn Kristiansen, Director of Development Centre for Weather Forecasting at MET Norway.

Jørn Kristiansen emphasizes that data that is to be digital public goods must be accessible, understandable and user-friendly. The data and services must be easy to find, presented in an understandable language, and the content must be relevant to the users. There must also be user support available to users, and some collaboration between users and developers.

– MET Norway has helped to show the way

Norewegian Governmental Strategy for Climate Adaptation was launched on Monday 12 April 2021. Here, digital transformation and innovation are important areas. The strategy describes, among other things, how Norwegian  Meteorological Institute explores the use of open weather data as a digital public good in African countries, and in the long term in other countries outside Africa, so that the national weather forecasts become more precise and reliable.

In a pilot project in Africa, funded by Norad, MET Norway will investigate what it takes the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in Malawi and Ethiopia to use MET Norway's data sets in their own services. Such an assignment requires a lot of competence building and transfer of knowledge . In many countries in the poor part of the world, the national meteorological institutes are characterized by many years of low fundings and thus weaker development than we have in our part of the world. Digital public goods can contribute to increased knowledge of modern technology and give access to good weather data.

– MET Norway’s work over the past ten years has undoubtedly helped to set the direction in Norwegian development assistance for both climate and weather services and global digital public goods, says Astrid Thesen Tveteraas, acting Head of Section for Environment and Food Security at Norad.

Fra workshop med Meteorologisk institutt, Norad, Flyktninghjelpen og representanter fra Malawi og Tanzania. Fra venstre mot høyre: Kristine Gjesdal, Yobu Kachiwanda, Clement Boyce, Roar Skålin, Nina Hellegjerde, Dimitar Hristov Ivanov (bakerst), Tasiana Mzozo, Jelmer Jøring, Ladislaus Chang’a, Anders Sivle, Astrid Thesen Tveteraas, Håvard Futsæter, David Melchior og Mariane Diop Kane.
Workshop with the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Norad, NRC, WMO and representatives from Malawi and Tanzania. From left to right: Kristine Gjesdal, Yobu Kachiwanda, Clement Boyce, Roar Skålin, Nina Hellegjerde, Dimitar Hristov Ivanov (back), Tasiana Mzozo, Jelmer Jøring, Ladislaus Chang'a, Anders Sivle, Astrid Thesen Tveteraas, Håvard Futsæter, David Melchior and Mariane Diop Kane.

Weather data from MET Norway

A digital common good is a software, an app, a dataset or the like that is accessible to everyone. Not only must it be accessible, but it must also be built up with the best methods, safeguard privacy requirements and contribute to the UN's sustainability goals. In the UN, work is being done to approve digital public goods so that they satisfy these requirements. You can find out who is nominated and who is approved on this website.

Over the years, Norwegian Meteorological Institute has built up data sets with content related to weather, sea and climate. Everything we produce ourselves is put out for free use. Some of our datasets are very widely used, including the datasets under the hood on Yr, which are accessible via an API (programming interface). We call this API MET Norway Weather, and it covers the entire globe.

The data behind Yr for the Scandinavian area comes from  MET Norway. For the rest of the world we use data from  European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecast. Anyone who wants can use the data from the API directly in their own digital solutions. You can read more about which data and how you can use them here. Terms of use of content on and from Yr

The need to increase the quality and availability of weather forecasts in many developing countries indicates that there is great potential in making the data behind Yr even more accessible in the future.

Værdataene som ligger til grunn for Yr er fritt tilgjengelig for alle som vil ta dem i bruk.
The weather data on which Yr is based is freely available to anyone who wants to use it.