evacuation route

by Staff Reports • @IBMinsights

IBM and The Weather Company team to strengthen hurricane preparation

Published June 25, 2015


When a hurricane rushes toward the United States coast, most people do the exact same thing—turn on The Weather Channel. The precise, immediate reporting gets towns in the storm track ready for the mayhem.

These preparations will only have more data to work from thanks to a partnership between The Weather Channel’s parent company and IBM.

As the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season gets underway, communities in severe weather-prone regions are working to create effective disaster response plans. Through a strategic alliance with The Weather Company and its global B2B division, WSI, IBM announces a new emergency management solution that features sophisticated analytics to help communities predict and plan for natural disasters and deploy the right resources in advance.

With natural catastrophes in 2014 estimated to have cost US$ 110bn and claimed 7,700 lives worldwide, the ability to better predict and plan for emergencies can have profound impact. IBM’s new Intelligent Operations Center (IOC) for Emergency Management collects historical and sensor data from a variety of sources.

By applying deep analytics, data visualization and real-time collaboration, the effort helps agencies throughout the country coordinate and manage response efforts during natural disasters, common emergencies and incidents.

The Weather Company enjoys ideal renown as a source of credible weather information. Two-thirds of American consumers over 18 turn to the company’s content. The flagship product, The Weather Channel, launched in 1982 and has become an integral element of hurricane observation and survival for coastal communities throughout the United States. There is something familiar—reassuring, perhaps—in the sight of a TWC meteorologist reporting from the field, rain-lashed and shouting as a tropical storm blows around them.

WSI, The Weather Company’s business-to-business property, is a provider of weather-driven business solutions that enable enterprises to make decisions using the most accurate and precise weather data available. WSI serves some of the world's biggest brands in the aviation, energy, insurance, and media markets, as well as federal and state government agencies.

“IBM is providing innovative emergency management tools that equip city officials with what they need to predict and prepare for any emergency,” says Major General Darryl Wong, Retired TAG for State of Hawaii. “It is imperative that city officials and emergency personnel have access and begin using intelligent analytics to keep communities safe in times of need.”

“We know that weather is often the primary factor in a public emergency,” says Mark Gildersleeve, President, WSI, the global B2B division of The Weather Company. “Our goal is to provide the most precise and resolute weather information to help communities using IBM’s IOC for Emergency Management to anticipate, plan for and take action in the face of significant weather events, keeping their constituents and assets safe from harm.”

“Big data is revolutionizing emergency management and transforming how communities protect citizens and property in times of emergency—which can range from hurricanes and snowstorms to highway accidents and riots,” says Robert Griffin, General Manager, Safer Planet at IBM. “The IOC for Emergency Management from IBM enables data sharing across organizational boundaries and applies sophisticated analytics to provide insight for future incident planning and response.”

By integrating weather data into the IBM IOC, local governments and emergency response organizations will be able to:

  • Increase lead time: The integration of WSI’s 15-day probabilistic tropical forecast, which delivers 1 1/2 days additional lead time over publicly available hurricane forecast information, into the IBM IOC for Emergency Management solution will help government officials around the world to make far better planning, positioning, and logistical decisions.
  • Activate rapid response: With WSI algorithms that track storms around the clock integrated into the IBM IOC for Emergency Management solution, emergency response teams will be able to avoid the guesswork and activate rapid response to the worst hit areas first.
  • Utilize Scenario Planning: With access to WSI’s proprietary ensemble forecast system, government agencies can create multiple, realistic scenarios for how a particular weather event, like a major snowstorm, could unfold. This approach shifts the paradigm from using an explicit forecast, which can lead to less insightful decisions, to expressing the forecast in probabilities, which leads to more informed decision making.


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