Tapastreet to help UK Met Office gather geotagged weather photos

11 Apr 2014

(From left) Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland; Terry Makewell, head of digital and global media, Met Office; Tanaiste Eamonn Gilmore; Joe Mitchell, CEO, Tapastreet; and Terence O'Rourke, chairman, Enterprise Ireland

Cork technology company Tapastreet has struck a deal with the UK’s Met Office to collaborate on a project that will use geotagged photos from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to show weather conditions across the world.

Every day, more than 15m geotagged photos are uploaded from smartphones to Twitter and Instagram alone to Tapastreet’s platform.

The company tracks these and many more from a wide range of other social networks, providing a comprehensive overview of what is happening anywhere in the world, as it happens.

This collaboration will build upon Tapastreet’s mining and image synthesis technology and the Met Office’s global and local weather forecasting and observation systems.

Social signals

“There is a fantastic amount of useful information shared on social media,” said Terry Makewell, the Met Office’s head of digital and global media.

“Initiatives like our Weather Observations Website (WOW) have shown the value of crowdsourcing observations from citizen scientists for professional meteorologists and climate scientists. Through Tapastreet we see the opportunity to enhance our work in a myriad of ways.”

Tapastreet has also developed a joint research project with Trinity College Dublin and The Institut National des Sciences Appliquées de Lyon (INSA) under the EU’s Industry-Academia Partnerships and Pathways, Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

Last year, Kernel Capital announced a €500,000 investment in the company. The investment comprised of a €250,000 investment by Kernel Capital with the remainder of the funds provided by Enterprise Ireland. 

Former Intel engineer Joe Mitchell and former Google employee Dave Johnson founded the company in 2012.

“We are delighted to be working with the UK’s national weather service,” said Mitchell.

“Tapastreet is first and foremost a technology company, and it is exciting for us to see our platform aiding the global leader in forecasting services to better understand the impact of weather events on the lives of people around the world.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years