Following in the footsteps of Google Inc., WeatherBug last week launched WeatherBug Labs with the intent of seeding ideas on how to get weather in front of more faces faster—before tornadoes, hurricanes or other natural disasters have a chance to wreak havoc.
WeatherBugs parent company is AWS Convergence Technologies Inc., which owns and operates the worlds largest live weather network. It runs some 8,000 weather-monitoring stations nationwide, with most of them perched on top of schools across the country.
WeatherBugs underlying technology includes broadcasting. The weather network partners with about 100 NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox TV stations to stream live data into the weather segment of their newscasts.
As far as the newly launched WeatherBug Labs goes, one of its first projects, an RSS feed that brings neighborhood-level weather information to desktops, is already out the door as a product.
Launched in mid-October, the feed is accessible via any RSS reader, such as Newsburst, Pluck or Rojo. It delivers live current conditions from one of WeatherBugs 8,000 Tracking Stations and brings daily forecasts and exclusive news stories from WeatherBug meteorologists. It also delivers WeatherBug Hall of Fame photos submitted by WeatherBug users.
Other WeatherBug Labs projects include WeatherBug Podcast, WeatherBug Games, WeatherBug on IM (instant messaging), WeatherBug Lite Mac (for the Macintosh platform) and WeatherBug API.
The newly introduced API is already seeing action as companies pick up WeatherBug to make it their own, customizing it with company photos or logos and integrating it into their Web sites, WeatherBug Chief Technology Officer and cofounder Chris Sloop said in an interview with eWEEK.com.
“Its an important thing for employees,” he said. “Especially if you have employees in the Midwest, where there are tornadoes, its very important to have something on the system that alerts you.”
Beyond caring for employees welfare, monitoring weather information is vital for data center operations, Sloop said, where an early heads-up on such things as severe thunder strikes and other naturally occurring disasters can make all the difference for disaster planning and recovery.
But WeatherBug faces an uphill battle when it comes to wide enterprise adoption. Early on, the service was maligned as spyware or at least adware. It is, in fact, supported by ads. But those ads are not pop-ups, and WeatherBug is on the war path to resurrect its good name.
“I look at it kind of like when spam filter technology came out,” Sloop said. “It not only filtered real spam e-mail, but some real e-mail got lost in the filter. We kind of got stuck into being labeled. And you cant blame the anti-spyware guys: Their approach was to label as many things as possible and cast as wide a net as possible because its a real issue. And some good people got caught in the net.”