Last summer the Met Office launched an online game to understand how best to present probabilities in weather forecasts. Carried out in collaboration with the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge, the game was played more than 11,000 times making it a record-breaking research project.
The number of plays exceeded initial expectations and demonstrated the benefits of obtaining user feedback in this way. Thank you to all that took part and played the game – we could not have done this without your help.
The weather game received positive press coverage nationally and also from around the world after becoming the largest study on the understanding of probabilistic weather forecasts undertaken. The Washington Post reported on how game players were contributing to the science of communicating uncertainty in weather forecasting, whilst Digital River reviewed the game, reporting: “The efficacy of a well-designed ‘gamification’ strategy has been demonstrated brilliantly by the Met Office in this case.”
Analysis is still ongoing but results so far have shown some interesting findings. Key results include:
- When faced with straightforward decisions, providing probabilities doesn’t confuse people.
- For more complex situations, on average people are able to make better decisions using probabilities.
- People make the best decisions when more detailed information on forecast uncertainty is provided.
With such a large dataset these results only represent the tip of the iceberg. The data is still being analysed and the intention is for the full set of results to be published in peer reviewed journals. We will let you know when the articles are published and will make the underlying dataset available online. This could be of use for school or university projects – we would be interested in your findings. Thank you again for taking part.
- A busy year for the Met Office in 2011 (metofficenews.wordpress.com)
- Communicating uncertain forecasts (metofficenews.wordpress.com)