sheff Uni March 2014-1058

Project Event

On the 16th March we are hosting an end-of-project event at the Information School in Sheffield. Participants include representatives from academic research, education, citizen science and more.

The event schedule includes:

  • Presentation of project methods and key findings
  • Talks on citizen projects
  • Launch of our interactive website
  • Impact workshop
  • Panel discussion
  • Have a go at building a Raspberry Pi weather station

The day starts with project talks from Jo Bates (project PI) and Paula Goodale (RA). Jo and Paula will present on some of the key findings from our analysis of the Secret Life of a Weather Datum data, and give insights into how the data was collected.

In the citizen science session, research participant Joan Arthur will talk about her experience of volunteering on the Old Weather project, and Danny Antrobus of Better With Data will talk about the 

 project.

During lunch, participants will have the opportunity to try their hand at building a simple Raspberry Pi weather station, based upon the SheffieldPiStation project, developed by our student Romilly Close. Full instructions and code are available online for anyone who wants to have a go in their own time.

Components for building a Raspberry  Pi weather station.
Components for building a Raspberry Pi weather station.

At our website launch, participants are invited to explore the site, contribute to the public conversation about the findings, and give us feedback for future development. The web site presents findings from the project in an interactive style, incorporating a novel map-based navigation. We welcome contributions to this session both live at the event and from people joining us online at lifeofdata.org.uk, from 1.30-2.30pm.

The impact workshop focuses on exploring ideas for developing the impact of the project outside of academia. Context from a research council perspective will be given by Prof. Andrew Prescott (Leadership Fellow for AHRC’s Digital Transformations theme), and we welcome ideas from practitioners and public perspectives.

A panel discussion on the theme of ‘Data dissonance – hype, power and engagement in the data revolution’ will provide an opportunity to hear from contrasting points of view and to contribute to a lively discussion. Panel members are Prof. Andrew Prescott (Glasgow/AHRC), Danny Antrobus (Better with Data Society/Open Data Sheffield), Prof. Helen Kennedy (Sheffield), and will be chaired by Jo Bates (project PI, Sheffield).

If you haven’t yet registered for the event, there are a still a few places left – sign up via our eventbrite page. We will also be live-tweeting throughout the day from @lifeofdata and #lifeofdata, so even if you can’t be in Sheffield, we hope you will join us, and join in the conversation.

Pi Station photo

Build a Raspberry Pi Weather Station

To help us understand more about the production and sharing of weather data, we decided to create some of our own and share it with the Met Office Weather Observations Website (WOW).

Photo of our Raspberry Pi weather station on the roof of the Information School, University of Sheffield.
Our Raspberry Pi weather station on the roof of the Information School, University of Sheffield.

With the help of Romilly Close (an undergraduate Aerospace Engineering student at the University of Sheffield) and Fred Sonnenwald (an engineering researcher at the University of Sheffield), we  built our own weather station using a Raspberry Pi and attached it to the roof of the Information School at the University of Sheffield.

The sensor feeds temperature and pressure data to the Met Office Weather Observations Website every 15 minutes. You can see our temperature data on the WOW website. You can also find out more about the WOW project in the Met Office – R&D station, and more about being an amateur weather observer at the Amateur Observers station.

Romilly wrote some instructions to show other people how to build their own Raspberry Pi weather station. If you want to have a go take a look at her website.

Map of Latitude

Open Data Incubator

Welcome to our Open Data Incubator! Here we’ll show you how to create a data visualisation using Met Office Open Data.


In this exercise you will create an interactive map of recent weather observations using Met Office open data. You can decide what data to display and how it should be displayed. When you have finished you can also publish your map on the web or send it to your friends.

To do this you will be using Google Fusion and you will need an Internet connection, a web browser, Microsoft Excel or equivalent, and a Google account. You can create your own free account if you do not already have one: https://accounts.google.com/SignUp.

1. Download Met Office observation data

To download Met Office observation data go to the data.gov.uk website http://data.gov.uk/metoffice-data-archive. This data is licenced using an Open Government Licence. This means that anyone is free to download, use, and re-use it for any purpose.

In the Query Type drop down box select “Observation Data”. This will automatically update Site Code to “All Observation Sites” and Date of Issue to today’s date.

Next click Search and the data will automatically download to your computer as a CSV file that you can open in Excel. Rename this file “Recent Weather Observations UK”.

Screenshot of data entry fields for Download Met Office Data

2. Create a Google Fusion table

Open a web browser and go to https://www.google.com/fusiontables/. (Create a free Google Account if you do not already have one https://accounts.google.com/SignUp.)

Click on “Create A Fusion Table

Screenshot of Create a Google Fusion table

Select “From This Computer” and click “Browse” to find the “Recent Weather Observations UK” file that you saved to your computer. Make sure that Separator Character “Comma” and Character Encoding “UTF-8” are selected, and then click Next.

Screenshot of data entry fields for Google Fusion Import New Table

Click “Next” again.

Screenshot of Google Fusion Import New Table screen 2

In the Table Name field add the title “Recent Weather Observations UK” and then click “Finish”.

3. Display weather observation data on a map

Select the “Map of Latitude” tab.

You can now:

  • Zoom in using the tool on the left of the map, then click on one of the red circles. See what information is being displayed about that weather station.
  • Click “Change Info Window” and select all the weather observation variables that you would like to see when you click on a station.
  • Click on “Change feature styles” and select how you would like each of the weather stations to appear on the map.

Now click on one of the weather station icons and see if it is how you want it to appear. Once you are finished click “Done” in the top right of the screen.

Screenshot of Map of Latitude

4. Publish your weather observation map

Congratulations you have just created an interactive map of recent weather observations. If you would like to share this with other people you can publish the map to the web by clicking “Tools” on the menu bar, and then select “Publish”.