The forecast for Open Data content is looking extremely bright following a decision by the government to release Met Office UK weather information to the public.

We at Microsoft are supporting the initiative with our Windows Azure platform via Marketplace. This effectively unlocks daily and hourly plus the forward next  5 days Met Office UK forecast near real-time data to well over 30,000 small businesses in our partner ecosystem. Additionally raw observation weather data is available for those that can interpret and create their own forecasts.

The release of the Met Office data forms part of a new push for government transparency – announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

The weather data is accessible from two websites – the government’s data.gov.uk site where users can download a CSV file. Meanwhile Microsoft’s datamarket.azure.com site is hosting the data and makes it available to users for free as a query dataset.

This is available via your internet browser or as a download to analyze in Excel using the free OData plug-in from the Marketplace. For the app developer community, this effectively puts powerful meteorological data into the palm of their hand. From Windows Azure Marketplace, developers are able to access the data using the Open Data Protocol. Using the data Marketplace provides a consistent and straightforward way to publish the data.

Microsoft worked with a UK SME partner dotnetsolutions, www.dotnetsolutions.co.uk, to develop the real-time Met Office UK weather data feed solution on Windows Azure Marketplace and integration to data.gov.uk in very short time scale.

It’s not the first time we have been involved in innovative projects – public sector initiatives using Open Data content in Azure already include Transport for London’s TrackerNet api for many mobile apps on iPhone/iPad/Windows Phone/Android, FCO Travel Advisory, Lovecleanstreets.org and Spotlightonspend.org.uk.

We look forward to the evolution of data.gov.uk sparking more growth for UK small businesses, and transformation of UK public services through technological innovation.

You can read more on this topic in the data.gov.uk blog: http://data.gov.uk/blog/weather-data-in-datagovuk

For more news and views from the Microsoft UK Government Team, please follow us on Twitter: @msukingov

Posted by Howard.