Connecting Windshield Wipers to Weather Forecasts with The Weather Channel
Bryson Koehler, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer at The Weather Channel, shares his perspective on The Weather Channel and the Internet of Everything.
Did you know that the weather affects about 35 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, every day? And, as you might guess, humans make decisions every day that are completely based on the weather. Weather is the most primal decision making factor to everything we do. Just as a person’s demeanor can change if it’s raining or sunny, business decisions and outcomes can change in the same manner. The more information we have about the weather, the smarter we can be. So we, at The Weather Channel, have been utilizing the Internet of Everything to gather and analyze data and assist businesses, cities and everyday consumers like you and me.
The Internet of Everything has changed the game of what our teams at The Weather Channel can do. While our company began as a 24-hour network devoted to weather programming, we have adapted a number of innovations over the years, and today have become a tech-led media company. We’ve grown from providing accurate forecasts for 2.2 million locations, four times an hour, to forecasting 2.8 billion locations, 15 times an hour. With the IoE we have been able to bring weather information to people across the world, giving them the information they need when they most need it. As a CIO, I try to unleash innovation. The more our technology tools can work autonomously of us, the more we can focus on our output and what they can do to impact our everyday lives.
Moving our forecasting platform to the cloud enabled more scalability and flexibility with our computing platform. This not only improved our processes, but it enhanced the data we gather. By embracing the new technology of the Internet of Everything, we have created a system that is unmatched when it comes to closely analyzing atmospheric data. The Weather Channel can now dig deeper and pin point the weather of a specific city, street corner or even a singular home address.
To further improve our data and weather models, we utilize state-of-the-art sensors to evaluate specific weather conditions. For example, phones like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Apple iPhone 6 have imbedded pressure sensors, as do things like windshield wipers. All of these allow us to analyze storm systems, humidity levels and weather patterns in real time in any given area. Internet of Everything-enabled devices like those sensors allow us to continue to work to keep local residents informed and safe. The faster we can receive and interrupt data about a storm, the quicker we can inform local citizens of impending danger.
It’s not just local residents that we can assist when we spot an incoming storm, either. We can provide insurance companies in advance with information about the storms that will affect their policyholders, so they can send out proactive alerts. Say 50% of the people who receive an alert about an impending hailstorm, for example, will put their cars inside. That can save insurance companies money by limiting the number of payouts and makes policyholders happier with their choice of insurance company.
From hailstorms to sunny days, we can simultaneously improve businesses’ understanding of their customers’ behavior. Businesses that use weather trends can better predict spending patterns for their specific area. For example, we know that 34 degrees in Miami is an entirely different beer sales weekend than 34 degrees in Chicago. What drives a company’s product consumption? It could be humidity. It could be wind. It could be cloud coverage. Through the data we are collecting, we can provide businesses with the insights they need to understand how weather is driving consumer behaviors, both in real time and ahead of time.
At the end of the day, innovation requires risk. At The Weather Company, we have taken those risks and evolved from a cable network into a technology-led media company. Using Cisco’s technology and the Internet of Everything, the data we can collect lets us deliver so much more than a basic weather forecast.
How does the weather impact your business? How can the Internet of Everything help? Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #InternetOfEverything.
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