Why use a weather forecast API?

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Technology

18/10/2023

by

Valéry Tarondeau

10 min

API = Application Programming Interface

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It is a software interface that allows applications to communicate between themselves. There are different types of APIs:

- Operating system APIs allow software to interact with devices (or IoT), to recognise gestures (touch screen, etc).

- Programming language APIs allow developers to use predefined functions, so they don't have to reinvent the wheel.

- Infrastructures APIs allow developers to change the available resources to run an application via the cloud (virtual machines, servers, network architecture, etc.) : Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, etc.

- Web APIs allow querying services provided by web platforms. From Google Maps backgrounds to Facebook's Social Graph and passing through tweet monitoring, this is the fastest growing category of API. For example, Airbnb uses the Google Maps API to turn the addresses of rental properties into geotags

Before the widespread adoption of APIs, there were various ways to access weather forecast data. In this context, personalized bulletins and/or geolocated alerts could be received by email (or via an FTP server) or consulted directly on weather forecast suppliers' websites.

However, the generalization of APIs in the meteorological field has changed usage by enabling real-time interpretation of the latest forecast data. Typically, today's mobile weather applications all use APIs to process and display weather data.

The professional use of weather forecasts has become significantly more efficient today, thanks in particular to REST APIs. Data is standardized, making it easier for third-party applications to use, and it is always up to date.

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The REST API

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Today, embedding photos with 2 clicks, tweeting, or storing five terabytes in the cloud are simple operations that no longer surprise anymore. This ease of use is made possible by REST APIs.
But what exactly are they? How and why did they come about?

Before the year 2000, there were no standards on how to design an API and how to use it. Its integration required the use of protocols such as SOAP, which was complex to implement, handle and difficult to debug. But this changed in 2000, when the real potential of Web APIs was recognized: a group of experts, led by Roy Fielding, invented REST and changed the API landscape forever.

The stated objective is to simply create a standard, allowing the communication and data exchange between two servers, anywhere in the world. They therefore designed a set of principles, properties and constraints called REST, a resource-oriented architecture:

- Uniform of the interface
- Client/server architecture
- Stateless session maintenance
- Caching of the resource representation
- Use of the HTTP protocol and its methods

The rules are many and universal. Through the correct application of these rules, the API is forced to simplify, and significantly facilitates integration work.

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What is a weather forecast API?

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A weather forecast API is a programming interface that provides access to weather forecast data. It provides developers with information on future weather conditions, as well as a range of meteorological variables such as temperature, wind speed, atmospheric pressure, and more.

Weather APIs are often used to create weather-related applications and services, or those reliant on weather conditions, such as weather forecast websites, mobile applications, and decision support tools in weather-dependent industries like agriculture, transport, construction, and more.

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Why use a weather forecast API ?

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Most people typically perceive weather as a simple tool that provides information about temperature and local weather conditions. However, for businesses and organizations, weather forecasts are far more important. Weather forecasts enable them to protect their assets and ensure the safety of their employees, production processes, customers, or citizens.

That’s why it's so important for these structures to obtain reliable forecasts that are accurate both geographically and temporally, so they can take the necessary measures to protect themselves against weather events.

Here are a few examples of how a weather API can assist organizations in managing their operations more effectively:

- Logistics companies can use a weather API to determine the optimal routes to avoid bad weather conditions and, consequently, delivery delays.

- Aviation has long used on meteorological data to control flight paths, ensuring the safety of passengers and crew.

- The construction industry is also affected. Construction projects can be delayed or halted due to weather conditions such as heavy rain, snow, or extreme temperatures. This can result in project delays, additional costs, and logistical challenges.

- Farmers are heavily impacted by weather conditions, as agricultural operations depend on temperature, precipitation, and humidity. Prolonged droughts, floods, frost, or thunderstorms can lead to crop losses and financial difficulties.

- Civil protection organizations also require weather APIs to anticipate risks such as fires, floods, or avalanches, enabling them to mobilize the necessary material and human resources at the intervention sites.

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What are the advantages of using a weather API?

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In addition to their benefits for organizations, weather APIs offer many advantages for entities requiring weather data. Whether you're a website developer, mobile app developer, or decision support tool creator, here are some benefits of using a weather API:

- Real-time weather forecasts: Continuously updated to provide the latest weather forecasts, allowing developers to create business applications that reflect the most recent meteorological conditions.

- Ease of Integration: Designed for easy integration into any decision support tool, application, website, and more. They provide a standardized interface that allows developers to easily retrieve the required weather data without worrying about collecting or processing raw data.

- Forecast accuracy and reliability: Powered by reliable, recognized meteorological data sources (AROME, ICON, GFS...). Aggregating all these data results in greater geographical and temporal forecast accuracy.

- Global coverage: Data available for regions all around the world, enabling developers to create applications and services that can be used internationally.

- Customization to meet your needs: Weather APIs allow organizations to tailor the selection of vital meteorological variables according to their specific requirements.

- Scalability: Weather APIs are scalable, meaning they can be used for projects of various sizes and levels of complexity.

- Cost-effectiveness: Weather APIs are often less expensive than developing weather solutions from scratch.

Using a weather API provides developers with easy access to reliable and accurate data, improving the quality of their applications and services, enabling their users to make informed operational and strategic decisions based on upcoming weather conditions. In this way, a weather API contributes to ensuring individuals safety, and enables companies to anticipate weather conditions more effectively.

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