If you’re in the UK right now, you might have noticed the weather – it’s snowy and rather cold! We shouldn’t really be surprised, it happens ever year. Every winter there are a few flakes, the roads and public transport fall to pieces and then it’s all melted before you can say Jack Frost. There is a great little website which has been around for a few years now – #uksnow map which is based around people’s tweets.
While people had tweeted the hashtag#uksnow before the site was set up, there had never been standards applied to this before, and most people never even imagined the data could be interpreted via a digital map. It took a small group of people no time at all to refine the concept, create the software and get the live map up and running.
For the past three years, we have rushed to Twitter to share our excitement with the world through #uksnow – according to Hashtracking the #uksnow hashtag has reached a whopping audience of nearly 1.5million in the last 24hours alone! Simply adding the first part of your postcode and a score out of ten means your tweet is contributing to a live map charting the fluffy stuff’s progress across the country. You can add photos and geotags or include the depth of snow too if you like. It’s fascinating to watch and take part.
Perhaps it has been so successful because of the UK’s unending fascination with the weather. We’ll take any excuse we can to talk (complain) about it. Maybe the #uksnow app has done so well because of how instant it is. You can watch a snowstorm move across the country in almost real time no matter if it’s already hit your area or not. Most of all it’s simple. You don’t need to subscribe, you don’t need to know any secret codes or have a lesson in java, you just use the hashtag #uksnow and you’re a part of the world’s most participative weather report.
Of course the #uksnow app isn’t foolproof – one person’s idea of 4/10 snow might not be the same as another’s but I think that’s a small price to pay to be able to quickly check a map and see if it’s snowing where your business meeting is being held, or how guilty you should feel for not sending wellies with your kids on that school trip. Also there is that sad moment when you check the map and it’s not snowing anywhere in the UK and you begin to fear the snowman may not make it through the night…