How it's made: Improving weather data one industry at a time
How It’s Made takes us under the hood of weather forecasting, revealing the key categories that create an accurate, reliable forecast. This article explores Category Five: Meteorological Expertise and, in particular, focuses in on how the weather experts work with different industries, to give the data and insights required.
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While we ramble on about weather forecasting (which we hope you appreciate), you’re perhaps starting to wonder what this means for you. When it comes to the weather, different industries have different challenges and different needs. If you work for a media company, for example, you need people that can explain the weather in a human way. If you work in shipping or offshore, you’re probably more focused on how weather, like waves and squalls, impacts your day-to-day operations.
In addition to all the industry-specific needs, every company needs highly accurate, personalized weather reports. Combined, this forms quite the shopping list! In this article, we tell how weather experts deal with all of the requirements by revealing how they support eight key industries.
Keep calm and enrich your weather data
Sadly, high quality data doesn’t come on a silver platter (if only that were true!). This means that all incoming weather data needs to be enriched before it can add value in any given sector.
So, before anything else, weather experts work on the improvement of the quality of their data. When it comes to weather observations, for example, the data provisioning team maintains and adapts the decoding of observations, whereas the weather services team defines and tests algorithms for quality control. A little further down the road, the same data management team ingests, processes, and interpolates weather model data while forecasters monitor and communicate changes in general weather patterns. Then there’s the weather services team maintaining and applying derived elements. And this is only a tip of the iceberg.
The work done by the weather experts across all industries can be categorized into two disciplines: the meteorological researchers and the forecasters. The first specializes in researching and developing products, which ingest quality-controlled data, for specific industry use-cases. The latter is in direct contact with customers and interprets the models for the specific customer use cases. For example, working with local authorities to know whether to grit a road or not during the winter months; or with offshore companies to know whether or not they can work safely in the weather conditions.
8 industries = 8 approaches
This data enrichment process applies to all industries. However, some industries depend more on model data or automated solutions and platforms, while others depend more on forecaster expertise. This has a huge impact on the way that weather experts work. In most cases, companies need a combination of meteorological research and the expertise of forecasters. Let’s see how this works for the eight industries listed below:
Like we said in the introduction, media companies need weather experts that talk about the weather in an easy to understand way. This is why, for this industry, weather forecasters are responsible for the biggest part of the job (around 80%). Think about radio interviews, text writing, consulting, briefing, and presenting (TV, video content, vlogs). The other 20% is focused on meteorological research and data visualization.
For transport, specifically winter roads maintenance, the percentages are comparable. Here, around 80% is focused on the work of forecasters, in terms of text writing, asset monitoring, alerting (IVR, email, texting, voice messaging), reporting, and consulting. Obviously, tone of voice is less important here, but clients do need to be trained so they learn to interpret the data in the right way. 20% of the work revolves around meteorological research; in particular, using the road and route models.
This comparison is getting slightly monotonous, but in offshore, the proportions are comparable too. 80% of the work is done by forecasters, who deal with text writing, data enrichment, monitoring (but this time, think squalls, wave heights, and wind speeds), routing, briefing, and long-term forecasting. As is the case in transport, forecasters spend a lot of time on client trainings too. 20% revolves around meteorological research, focused on metocean studies in particular.
When we look at the shipping industry, the expertise balance switches. Here, 80% is focused on meteorological research for improving the ship performance and monitoring system. The other 20% in spent on routing, performance reporting, explanation, consulting, briefing, and data monitoring by forecasters.
The same goes for energy. Here, 80% is spent on meteorological research. Sub-seasonal forecasting and dynamic line rating are important in this industry, both of which benefits from historical data and hindcasting. The other 20% of the work revolves around text writing, consultancy, explanation, client-specific data enrichment, reporting, and yes: sub-seasonal forecasting.
In the insurance sector, a lot of time is spent on meteorological research (80%), with observations particularly important. This is needed to forecast peak hours and to check claim reliability. The other 20% is dealt with by forecasters, who, for example, report on severe weather events.
For the agricultural sector, 100% of the expert time is spent on meteorological research. Here, observation data is used to keep track of humidity, water temperature, CO2, and solar radiation, both outside and in greenhouses. Often, weather forecasts are directly linked to the decision-making process. For example, greenhouse owners use weather data to trigger rooftops to open and close, to reposition the windows and to manage the lights.
#8. Consumer apps
Admittedly, “consumer apps” is not really a sector. However, the weather experts like to think of them as one, as they’re all 100% focused on meteorological research. The app builders use enriched weather data to optimize their services, meaning that forecaster services are less important for this particular sector.
The weather experts always base their services on the industry type and customer-specific requirements. Because, after all, what’s the use of highly accurate weather data, if the information isn’t relevant for you?