Everybody talks about the weather…

…but the National Weather Service (NWS) won’t write apps for it. This from Information Week Government, which reports that the NWS has “put a hold on the use of internal resources to develop device-specific mobile application for iPhones, Androids, or iPads.” The deputy director who made the decision reasons that there are already thousands of successful weather apps on the market that use NWS data, so there’s no need for the Service itself to write apps itself. The NWS employee union does not agree with this decision, calling it “demoralizing” and a step towards privatization of the National Weather Service.

To me, what the NWS seems to be doing is what we in the private sector call “adopting a platform strategy.” They’re focusing on the app and service infrastructure (the platform and APIs), leaving client side development to other parties. This is an excellent way of increasing adoption of your information and services. Just look at Twitter and Facebook, not to mention all of the companies using the Mashery, for examples of organizations that have used platforms to enable countless uses of their services in apps and web sites.

Perhaps the deputy director could have avoided at least some of this conflict by stressing the positive innovation potential of the platform as opposed to the negative of stopping app development.


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