The Idea Incubator/Crowdsourcing Weather Stations

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Weather forecasting accuracy can be improved by obtaining accurate weather observations from more locations more frequently. Developing a compact, inexpensive, accurate, and easy to use personal weather station can benefit regional, national, and global weather forecasting and provide the homeowner or building manager important weather, environmental, and home maintenance information.

Indoor air quality monitors that measure temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, volatile organic compound (VOC) levels, and fine particulate (PM2.5) levels are now commonly available. The Awair Element is one example. These affordable and compact units connect via Wi-Fi to smartphone apps that report and record air quality conditions.

A similar unit adapted for outdoor use that measures temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, windspeed, and perhaps wind direction could also report data frequently to the national weather service or similar agency. Adding air quality measures to the device would allow monitoring and reporting of air pollution, pollen counts, and airborne chemical toxins. Registration of the device with an agency would establish the location and accuracy of each device. These additional frequent weather observations can be used to increase the weather forecast accuracy.

Projects such as Purple Air, Ambient Weather Network, Weather Underground, and the Citizen Weather Observer program provide prototype examples.

In addition to improving weather forecast accuracy, paring an outdoor weather monitoring device with an indoor air quality monitor can provide the homeowner several benefits. These benefits include accurate temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, and windspeed data reporting and recording at the home location. Also, comparison of outdoor measurements to indoor conditions allows the homeowner or building manager to monitor, manage, maintain, and improve HVAC system efficiency and effectiveness.

Data from external and internal air monitors could be integrated with detailed electrical energy monitors (such as sense) to provide continuous HVAC efficiency monitoring and predictive maintenance alerts.