UK Airports Safety Week- How the Met Office put operational weather data in an airport’s pocket

OpenRunway

This week, many airports across the UK will be participating in UK Airports Safety Week. The aim of this week is to focus on a collaborative UK airports’ commitment to safety achievement, innovation, development and learning.

Continuing on this theme, Victoria Stone, Aviation Product Manager, sheds some light on how the Met Office went about putting weather data in the pockets of operational airport teams with the new OpenRunway® product. With an increasing demand for up to date data at our fingertips, access to operational weather data on a mobile device has become nothing less than a hygiene factor in commercial product development.

It’s easier to make things bigger than it is to make things smaller

When designing the new OpenRunway® product and its to-be feature set, the question ‘how will this perform on a mobile device?’ was our filter.

From user research we knew that access to weather data on the move was critical for airport operating teams to perform their duties as quickly and effectively as possible.  The new product had to satisfy this requirement if it was to be successful in the market. As such, our entire design process was dictated by this principle. With the exploration of each potential feature came the evolution of a product that would scale from mobile phone, to tablet, to desktop and to larger ops centre screens.

But the mobile first philosophy didn’t just stop at design. As proposed features beyond the pre-defined minimum viable product were explored, the question ‘would this feature add any value on a mobile phone?’ was too. If the answer was borderline ‘no’, then it came under scrutiny as to how much value this proposed feature would add to the whole product. Less was more, and purpose was prerequisite for delivery.

OpenRunway1

A new feature set that focuses on customer needs and the end goal of working software

When starting development in February 2016, the team was passionate about building a product according to the principles of the Agile Manifesto.

Following the guiding principle, “our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software”, we iteratively built a feature set that was based on an understanding of user needs, market research and user testing.

Applying this principle encouraged the team to continuously re-evaluate the priority of user stories, which were informed by an understanding of user needs. The consequence of this was that only the most important things made it to the top of the development Sprint ‘to-do’ list and only the most important things got delivered. Rare is the luxury of an unlimited budget in product development, and applying this thinking was crucial for spending the money we had wisely. Applying this thinking also meant that we were in a position to deliver some features that went beyond our pre-defined minimum viable product.

The new feature set of the OpenRunway® product includes

  • Mobile and tablet first- the new OpenRunway is useable on a mobile, tablet and desktop device
  • 24 hour forecast summary table displaying recent observation data and 24 hour forecast data
  • Customisable RAG thresholds on the 24 hour forecast table
  • Map with configurable layers, plus timeline
  • Search functionality- ability for users to search and display data for another airport or runway within their group
  • Aircraft de-icing forecast
  • Forecaster generated weather forecast outlook
  • Forecaster generated dailyweather summary
  • Aerodrome warning data
  • TAFs and METARs presented in regional lists and searchable by ICAO

With many airports and airlines using OpenRunway® across the UK to improve their runway safety and efficiency, we were thrilled to be recognised as the winner of the Best Service Provider in the AOA Awards 2016.

Victoria Stone- Product Manager

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