IoT: Reducing the effect of weather on industries

By | 2 minute read | March 28, 2017


The weather has a direct, daily impact on us as it affects what we wear, our mood and the industries we work for. The Weather Company estimated that it’s the largest external factor affecting business performance, leading to $1 trillion lost annually in the US alone.

The Internet of Things (IoT) can help improve our understanding of the weather and atmosphere, by using sensors on satellites, airplanes and an array of devices to give real-time visuals and up-to-date information.

IoT-enabled weather systems build a highly accurate forecast and provide flexible real-time monitoring. Vehicles on the road use sensors installed on windshields, wipers, and tyres to collect data on weather and road conditions, which is then pooled into the cloud for analysis.

Once analysed, the reliable data allows businesses to make informed decisions and create a positive impact across their industries. Here are just a few examples of weather data in action:

Air travel

Real-time updates will give pilots the opportunity to improve journey efficiency. For example, if a plane is traveling at 30,000 feet and turbulence is signalled ahead, the pilot can fly at a different altitude to avoid it. Not only will this improve customer satisfaction, increasing the chance they will choose to fly with that airline in future, it saves on fuel and therefore helps the environment.


Weather data from smartphones, social media and supply chains will help retailers to understand how they can appeal to each individual consumer and create truly personal marketing.

The IoT has an impact on goods before they even make it into the supermarkets – by influencing the agricultural process and the global food system. And once in the store, weather data can help retailers plan by strategically placing products where they are most noticeable (at the ends of the isles, for instance) when there is high demand. There may even be a direct correlation between products we buy and the weather, as IBM and P&G and Unilever discovered when their researched revealed that women bought more hair conditioner in humid weather.

Insurance companies

Data from connected devices will help insurance companies develop accurate understanding of risk so they can better craft coverage offerings. For example, knowing when it is likely to hail will enable them to notify customers, who can move their cars and prevent damage. Furthermore, collecting and analysing data gathered from sensors in connected cars can be used to aid drivers in emergencies or to avoid crashes.

Emergency management

2016 saw the lowest fatality rate from tornadoes in USA. Previously, the evacuation notice did not offer enough time for people to leave the affected area as a notice was only put out once the tornado was visible. Now, with IoT devices collecting real-time data, when it’s cognitively believed that it will hit a certain area, an evacuation warning can be put out even though the tornado hasn’t been seen, giving people an extra 30-40 minutes to prepare.

Although we will never be able to change the weather, as the IoT continues to become more ingrained in our lives it’s crucial we use it to help both people and industries.

Learn more

To learn more about IBM and The Weather Company, visit our website. If there’s an IoT device which helps you handle with the weather, let us know in the comments.