Huddle helps to connect Met Office stations around the world. 

A world leader in providing weather and climate services, the Met Office employs around 2000 people at 60 locations throughout the world. A Trading Fund within the UK Government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Met Office operates on a commercial basis under set targets.

The Met Office is recognised as one of the world's most accurate forecasters, using more than 10 million weather observations a day, an advanced atmospheric model and a high performance supercomputer to create in excess of 3,000 tailored forecasts and briefings a day. These are delivered to a huge range of customers, from the UK Government, to businesses, the general public, armed forces, and a wide range of other organisations.

Communication and collaboration internally and with these customers was creating challenges as documents and files became increasingly large, complex and difficult to transfer via email or even FTP. Ensuring accurate version control was unnecessarily time-consuming and risked impacting productivity. Collaborating with external partners over email was slow, unreliable, and concerns were raised over its security. Clearly an alternative way of working was required.

Huddle was first recommended by the Met Office IT team, who had been introduced to the cloud collaboration solution by a client. After an internal trial, Huddle was adopted by the Met Office in 2010, and now has more than 400 global users across the organisation.

Met Office Senior IT Practitioner Michaela Drummond was responsible for evaluating the initial trial, and is now the Met Office Huddle administrator. “We had to find a better way of working, which would increase our productivity and maintain our data security and accuracy,” said Drummond. “When Huddle was recommended to us, we asked 25 of our staff to test it out, and the feedback was very positive. Key selling points for us were Huddle’s high levels of security, remarkably wide adoption (70%) across the UK government, and also because Huddle works seamlessly across both Mac and PC formats.”

Huddle is used for international collaboration with Met Office stations around the world, including in Kenya, Australia, and South East Asia, and with partners such as the Environment Agency, which is also a Huddle user. 

Huddle enables the Met Office teams to share vital data widely amongst multiple stakeholders, including real-time updates. For example, the Met Office shares data from the Weather Radar Network Renewal schedule, which is designed to provide continuous, real-time rainfall data over almost the whole of the UK land area and inshore waters. Any registered user can now check on the latest information and in the case of emergency services, can use the data for immediate emergency response in times of extreme weather conditions, or flood planners can use it to manage future risk. The easy dissemination of the Met Office’s information is therefore critical for a broad range of important civil functions. “The use of Huddle to do this means that we don’t have to maintain complex mailing lists, the whole project team has access to the very latest information and all members can easily self-serve their own information requests,” said Drummond.

Huddle is also fundamental to the documentation sharing that underpins the multi-organisation Environmental Science to Services Partnership, for which Michaela is the Programme Manager. “We use Huddle to share, update and add comments to documents and to hold discussions using the whiteboards. This means that everyone on our virtual team is kept fully up to date and able to constantly participate and add value. We can even use Huddle to help organise such a disparate group of people using the Huddle calendar,” added Drummond.   

Huddle has been particularly effective in helping the Met Office meet the targets for its flexible working programme, which encourages staff to work from home, or spend time in a different part of the organisation. These forward-thinking policies ease desk space and car parking and reduce travelling. In order to suitably equip its teams, the Met Office uses desktop and mobile apps from Huddle, including on phones and tablets via the app. “Huddle’s design is very user-driven,” said Drummond.

Huddle provides a secure platform for the Met Office teams to communicate across the UK, no matter where they may be or what device they may be using. Huddle is available on desktop, mobile (Android & IOS) and tablet. “This flexibility drives  productivity and collaboration as up-to-date documents are always readily accessible and the team members can all input equally well without the restriction of whether they are in the office or not. It is functionality such as this that has led to excellent user feedback, and an adoption rate that is driven through word-of-mouth recommendation throughout the Met Office – the very best endorsement that a technology such as this can receive!”

“Huddle did a great job in meeting our user requirements,” concluded Drummond. “With its easy set-up, excellent interactive training and superb file management, Huddle continues to provide an essential means of communication and has proved to be an invaluable tool and a huge support for the Met Office and international collaboration.” 

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