There are so many uses for data that traverse beyond the traditional. For example, data can reveal relationships and truths we never thought of. Data can confirm or deny our hunches and hypotheses. It can help find what’s missing or misrepresented so we can arrive at conclusions that are more accurate and precise. As a result, it can inspire us to create new ideas to improve our lives and the world around us. And, very importantly, data can also inform us of big events and prepare us for catastrophe. One of the most prolific data-driven activities involves weather and climate. Using weather data, we can better prepare for everyday conditions and catastrophic events. Not only can we determine when to bundle up and when to break out the tank-tops, but also when to expect tornadoes, tsunamis and hurricanes.
Beyond the usual weather report
And now, it’s possible to use weather and climate data to solve problems once thought unsolvable. Satellite and radar imagery, surface observations, along with measurements of barometric pressure, wind speed, precipitation, temperature, and humidity all create pictures of Mother Nature’s wrath. Moreover, we can see what role she’s going to play in our lives, so we can break out the galoshes or stock up on nonperishable goods. So, what are some interesting ways weather and climate data can solve problems? I’m going to take a look—beyond the usual weather report!
Solve crimes with forensic meteorology
Forensic meteorology uses science to reconstruct weather at the time and place of crimes and incidents. Forensic meteorologists use weather records and eyewitness accounts to simulate the conditions to determine whether a specific incident was probable. In court cases, they can help corroborate or disprove a testimony. Using science, they can contribute to the legal process in cases of traffic accidents, bombings, death, building collapses, fires, theft, injuries, or property disputes.
Coastal engineers use wind and wave climate (metocean condition) data to preserve the marine ecosystem and prevent beaches from eroding. They build statistical models that predict wave activity, or hydrodynamic impact. As a result, they can identify where to place breakwaters and seawalls, dredge sand, mud, and rocks away or move them to another location. In addition, they can create artificial dunes to hold an eroding shoreline in place. This offers protection to surrounding properties and ensures our enjoyable sandy getaway doesn’t get washed into the sea!
Improve marketing, streamline operations, and create economic models
The rise and fall of demand and corresponding sales in certain industries coincides with sunny or inclement weather. It’s no wonder that an ice cream parlor might not have astronomical sales when temperatures plummet, for instance. In the case of restaurants, they can compare order history and weather patterns to make numerous decisions. With this data, they can figure out what times of year they should increase advertising, showcase their specialty soup or offer a discount for cold desserts. Moreover, they can determine which days to order supplies for earthy autumn drinks or hearty wintry dishes and in what quantities.
Building operations managers can use weather and climate data to control the electricity use and tune the temperature control systems of buildings. They can embed smart systems that report on usage and combine it with weather data to better forecast and control operational costs.The benefits are twofold. First, they save money. Second, they can be more environmentally friendly.
On a grander scale, economists can predict supply and demand patterns and reveal useful correlations. How? By building comparative models that combine weather patterns with financial data.
Predict asthma attacks
Companies like Teva Pharmaceuticals, which has teamed with Watson to create “smart inhalers,” can use weather data to improve medical outcomes. Embedded with sensors, asthma inhalers can gather usage data to ensure patients are properly using them. Combined with Weather Company data such as temperature, humidity, air-quality, and presence of dust and other allergens, this information can predict when triggers could occur. As a result, patients can receive recommendations for preventing or ameliorating asthma attacks.
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