Some time back I set up a number of Twitter accounts that would automate the hourly posting of aviation metars for a small number of airports (examples: @YSSYmetar & @KLAXmetar). I was later inundated with requests from people that wanted accounts set up for their own local airports. It was a little time-prohibitive to set up individual accounts for every request that came through so I made a note to set up a standalone web based Twitter application that would automate the process for any user. A few days ago, I created a Twitter application called Metars – attached to weatheraviation.net.
What is a Metar? A “metar” is an international standard for transmitting raw weather data related to a specific airport, and valid for a specific period. Data includes temperature, dew point, wind speed and direction, precipitation, cloud cover and heights, visibility, and barometric pressure. More information at Wikipedia.org.
The speed at which these types of applications can be made – and the value of the service – means that I’ll likely make a bunch of similar sites over coming months.
The application is simple. A user will register via Twitter’s Oauth, be redirected back to our website, select a metar report for a recognised ICAO station (basically an airport that generates the reports) and then select the option of having the report tweeted every hour, every six hours, every twelve hours, or once a day.
Reports are generally fetched from the NOAA.gov website. If that source is unavailable we’ll look at a few other additional resources to see if they’re able to provide the data.
From a marketing perspective, and in terms of extending your online reach, accounts like these create an extremely effective means to distribute relevant information to a captive audience. In terms of marketing, this type of service creates ‘another’ service that’ll connect you with potential or existing clients. I’ve used aviation weather as an example, but there’s not an industry that exists that doesn’t demand some kind of channel for industry-specific information.
Initially, limited spots are made available so I can determine what sort of load running my scripts places on my server. I’ll progressively release more spots when I’m confident CPU usage won’t be compromised.
I may be able to provide the code (and assist you in setting up an application) if you want to run a similar service. Make contact with me via email if you’re interested.
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