Blockchain and crypto are coming to a local weather station near you — or at least that’s what one group of Athens-based engineers is trying to accomplish. WeatherXM is using a combination of blockchain-based data verification with crypto incentives to get people worldwide to capture their local weather data for more accurate forecasting.
Cointelegraph sat down with WeatherXM co-founders CEO Manolis Nikiforakis and chief technology officer Nikos Tsiligaridis for an interview in Athens, Greece. They talked about how Web3 tools provide the best solution to the lack of quality and the quantity of available weather data.
The company is deploying a new infrastructure of community-powered weather stations built with blockchain-based oracle hardware. It creates smart contracts of information gathered from localized weather stations, from which decentralized weather data is produced. The smart contracts verify both the location of the station and the nonfungibility of data collected from the location.
“Then we monetize those services and put the value back into the original people who created the data in the first place, which are the weather station owners, who we call weather miners,” says Nikiforakis.
The native utility tokens of the network are WXM and Data Credits (DC).
“Using the crypto incentives, we have transparent and fair mechanisms that will make sure that once value is produced and obtained by a third party, it will circulate back to the community.”
According to the co-founders, the project includes both weather enthusiasts and those with a more tech-savvy background.
Currently, over 700 weather stations are set up around the world, from the United States and Europe to Vietnam. Nikiforakis sa within the next few months, at least another 2,000 will be shipped out for users to start collecting data.
The creators of WeatherXM said decentralization is inherent to the project. Allowing individuals to deploy their own stations in a given location creates a “by the people, for the people” type of approach to weather data collection, rather than a major centralized enterprise.
“The more dispersed the decentralized weather community is, the better it is for the general accuracy of weather data collection and for providing data on locations with little to no known data.”
The developers incentivize weather miners through rewards based on location and data quality. Those in rare locations and with proper installations of weather stations (i.e., away from asphalt not under an awning) reap higher token rewards.
Due to the stations needing an active connection to the internet, rural stations are even rarer.
Related: How blockchain can open up energy markets: EU DLT expert explains
Roughly one-third of global economic activity is highly weather-sensitive, such as international trade and shipping and the agriculture industry. For ordinary people, knowing the weather might affect clothing choices. For businesses, it has a major impact on the ability to waste or save resources.
“There's a whole industry that deals with weather data from an insurance point of view,” sai Nikiforakis, adding:
“This means our infrastructure can enable weather insurance smart contracts in the future in ways that traditional weather forecasts or weather networks today cannot.”
These types of blockchain-based solutions will be important in developing regions that rely heavily on weather-sensitive economic activity. For example, in Africa, 44% of the working population in 2020 had agriculture-related employment.
WeatherXM has used its collected weather data to service extensive operations like the Athens International Airport and a major regional telecom provider, the team said.