“Transparency”: Weathercaching


One of the first projects done partly with the Zygomatica team is a prime example of what we are calling “transparency” projects. The idea combines geocaching and open weather data to create what we called “weathercaching“.

The concept is simple indeed:  Let’s enhance geocaching so that you get more points for finding a cache in really horrible weather.

There are two catches that made this a very difficult project indeed:

1) How do you actually define “horrible weather”? We wanted something that would be global, unambiguous, and based on valid physiology and meteorology. We further wanted to define this “horribleness” as a single weather factor (W) between 0.5 and 5, analogous to the difficulty/terrain (D/T) points in normal geocaching.

2) How can you measure the “horribleness” of the weather automatically? Having the user measure the weather at the cache location would sound like a “trivial” solution, but this was felt to be a cop-out; the technological question only becomes interesting if open weather data are used.

Full analysis: A full analysis is on the project page.  (Note that the text is rather academical and dry).

Summary: There are “weather corridors” along Finnish highways which have enough weather stations to allow sufficiently accurate monitoring of the weather (see map below, adapted from www.geocaching.com). Even more importantly, the majority of caches are within these corridors.  Problem 2 is therefore technically solvable. However, we could not find a reasonable solution for problem 1. Meteorology has good parameters to define hazardous weather; it does not have any tools to define miserable weather. Also, there is no unambiguous way to determine W from the weather data; misery is culturally defined.

Conclusion: The technology and data sources exist. The specific application itself is, however, not worth implementing, and no demonstrator was made. Other uses for the weather data might well be possible.

Team:  Jakke Mäkelä, Pertti Sundquist, Gavin Treadgold, Kalle Pietilä, Niko Porjo.

Map adapted from www.geocaching.com

2 thoughts on ““Transparency”: Weathercaching”

  1. Weathercaching, how original! Some comments: there might also be a subjective perspective in horribleness. Some do not consider heat as horrible as coldness etc. Could there be some way, where users could adjust the parameters by themselves?
    Not all geocaches can be found during the snowy time of the year.

    1. We did consider the possibility of creating “national standards” of misery (for example, Brits fear no rain, Finns fear no cold, Thais fear no heat). It’s certainly doable, but the idea was to have a global solution since geocaching is a global hobby. So we would have wanted a single value of W that would be applicable all over. We can certainly develop global standards for the extreme cases (five points if you cache in weather that’s likely to kill you) but below that itäs just too subjective. And we can’t really use the hazardous extremes in any case, since it’s an implicit value in geocaching that people should not get killed.

Comments are closed.