Google Maps API Powers Real-Time Weather For Weather Channel

Google Maps API makes it possible for The Weather Channel to tap into the power of crowd-sourced data to make its weather maps more accurate.

There's an old saying that professes, "All politics is local." Well, so is the weather. Weather systems are finnicky beasts that often terrorize one neighborhood only to leave the next completely unscathed. That's why offering accurate weather maps is critical to ensuring the safety and well-being of those in the affected areas.

The Weather Channel is able to do exactly this in its Android mobile app with the help of the Google Maps Android API and Google Maps JavaScript API.

"We know from experience that the combination of weather, mapping, and community input can result in ideas that keep people safe and informed," explained Chris Huff, Vice President of Mobile Development at The Weather Channel. "Our Android app goes far beyond basic weather forecasting, which is why we chose Google Maps ... to place geodata, such as weather alerts, hurricanes, storm tracks, and weather tiles, such as radar maps and clouds, on top of Google Maps."

Radar maps are at the heart of The Weather Channel's Android App. The Weather Channe culls its radar map data from a range of different sources. This data is used to generate raster images, hundreds of which are assembled to create time-lapse sequences that show weather systems transting across the map.

The Google Maps Android API is what makes this possible, says Huff. The company uses the API to generate the overlays to place the animations on top of map grids. The API also allows The Weather Channel to populate the maps with pins and polygons to visualize real-time eents, such as lightning strikes.

The Weather Channel's data can only offer so much details, admits Huff, which is why the company has turned to the crowd to provide hyper-local real-time forecasts. 

"The more local weather reporting is, the more accurate it is," notes Huff. "To improve accuracy and to build a community around our app, we’ve worked to make it more social. People send us information about weather near them, and we use the Google Maps Android API to add a pin to the map for each user-created report. Anyone can tap a pin to see the detailed report."

How's this working out for The Weather Channel? The company claims its app has been downloadoed more than 68 million times and generates 2 billion requests for radar maps every year.

People often ask, "How's the weather?" Many respond, "Look out the window." How about checking out The Weather Channel's mobile app, instead? You'll probably be able to see radar maps that are accurate down to your exact location 

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