Archive for the ‘Weather’ tag
The weather is an unforeseeable, ungovernable force and EarthRisk is using big data to predict it.
EarthRisk Technologies has developed a new model for predicting extreme weather events. The model identifies weather patterns based on over 82 billion calculations and 60 years of data. It then compares those patterns to current conditions and uses predictive analytics to predict the weather up to 40 days in advance.
The technology is derived from research at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Cofounder and CEO John Plavan said the old standard for weather prediction is built on subjective forecast models that are not accurate beyond a week.
“Hundreds-of-thousands of atmospheric variables are changing constantly around the globe and the old models aren’t robust enough to take these into account,” Plavan said in an exclusive interview with VentureBeat. “If there is a change to the initial conditions, the whole thing breaks down. We use statistical relationships to predict eventual outcomes and this technique is not subject to the same chaos. We are applying analytics to an industry that is begging for reinvention.”
EarthRisk has collected data from the U.S. and U.K. governments, as well as observational data from thousands of scientists and researchers working in the field and the database is updated everyday. EarthRisk’s engine searches for correlations and patterns of “statistical significance” and generates forecast probabilities based on this information. The approach uses the past to predict the future.
“Utilities corporations, energy traders, and energy producers are majorly impacted by big temperature changes and spend hundreds of millions of dollars trying to predict them,” Plavan said. “If they know there will be an extreme cold event a month from now, they can use that data to make an actionable decision, and these guys will do anything to gain a small edge.”
EarthRisk’s flagship product TempRisk is the first commercial application of this technology and is geared towards the research and energy trading communities. The company has been developing, refining, and testing the technology for a few years and now plans to expand the business dramatically and explore more commercialization opportunities. There could be more consumer-focused applications down the road, like the ability to check weather in a tropical location before booking a vacation.
Sometimes I feel like we take amazing things for granted. I asked my wife a minute ago if it was supposed to rain tomorrow. She said, “Good question.” So I asked Google. “Is it supposed to rain tomorrow?”
Google was smart enough to figure out I wanted tomorrow’s weather forecast for my location. Boom. As for the answer? Yeah, looks stormy. I think I’ll file a bug somewhere with the search team to see if they can manipulate the actual results.
Thinking of buying a car or house soon? Knowing that the weather can subtly influence your purchase decision might keep you from making a choice you might later regret. More »
Google has always been great for finding quick answers to things like the weather forecast, doing quick calculations, or looking up words, and today it updated its search engine to provide more attractive, interactive answers in these categories. More »
Two lads working with DreamIt Ventures, Aaron Ting and Jarod Stewart, have built something called Winston. Winston is a conversational assistant that deals in information. He will wake you up with a morning briefing about the current news and weather as well as notes from your social feed. Think of it as one of those windows in sci-fi movies that light up in the morning and give the hero the bad news that he/she is wanted by the intergalactic police.
“Winston is a marriage of Conversational Interface and Flipboard-style web content cohesion; we think this combination is really different and extremely compelling,” said Ting.
The company received $25,000 from DreamIt and just opened a $500,000 note.
“We were thinking about Smart TVs, and realized that even if you put a really sophisticated web browser on a Smart TV, a lot of your online social addictions and news addictions are lean-forward, text-heavy experiences that you wouldn’t want to consume from your couch. So we decided to build an app that could take all of this text-heavy content and turn it into an audiovisual newscast – an experience that you can listen to and watch.”
Interaction with Winston is fairly limited. Think of it as calling your assistant into the room and asking for a rundown of the day’s happenings. You’ll learn various bits of information without having to squint at your phone and you can enable Winston while driving or before bed.
“Winston will brighten your mornings with a beautiful audiovisual news briefing. During the day, you’ll be able to drive safely while staying tuned to your social updates using Winston’s ‘eyes-free’ mode,” said Ting.
The app is currently in its relative infancy but you can try it out at GetWinston.com.
Current Caller ID Supercharges Your Phone’s Caller ID with Social Info, Best Times to Call, and More [Video]
Android: Current Caller ID is a free utility for Android that turns every incoming call into a dashboard full of information about the caller, complete with social updates, weather where they are, the name and details of the caller, and more. If you miss a call or decline it, the app will even help you understand the best time to call the person back based on their location and the last time you spoke to them. More »
SEOmoz announced a new neat service that aims at providing insight into if Google has run a major search index/algorithm update in the past by tracking 1,000 keywords every 24 hours from a select number of web sites. The service is called MozCast and literrally shows a weather report based on…
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
Posted by Dr. Pete
If you follow me on Twitter at all (and, if so, may God have mercy on your soul), you may have seen me saying things like this over the past couple of months…
…and you may have found yourself wondering “Where does he get all that wonderful data?” Like all of the best things in life – cookies, babies, belly button lint – the answer is that I made it myself. Luckily for you, I’m in a sharing mood.
Welcome to MozCast
So today, I’m pleased to announce the launch of Mozcast.com – the Google weather report. You can visit it right now, and it looks something like this:
The first thing you'll notice (besides Roger's smiling face), is yesterday's weather. The hotter and stormier the weather, the more Google's algorithm changed over the past 24 hours (a "normal" day is roughly 70°F). The weather report updates automatically each morning (about 7:30am Pacific Time currently, but that may change over time).
5-day & 30-day Reports
One every page of MozCast.com, you can view a 5-day history on the left-hand side of the screen. The home-page also provides a complete 30-day history – mouse over any day on the graph for the date and a specific temperature reading. In the near future, we'll be adding a 30-day average and may open up more historical data.
How Does It work?
There's a detailed explanation on the MozCast site, but here are the basics. We track a hand-selected set of 1,000 keywords every 24 hours. Those keywords are delocalized, depersonalized, split evenly across 5 "bins" of search volume and are tracked from roughly the same location and the same time every day. Our goal has been to keep the system as controlled as possible.
For each keyword, we store the top 10 Google organic results, and then we compare those results to the previous day. We calculate a metric called "Delta10", which is essentially the rate of change across the entire top 10. Then we take the average of all Delta10s (which ranges from 1-10) to measure the daily flux. We multiply that by a fixed value (currently, 28.0), and that becomes the day's temperature on MozCast.
Each temperature is also converted into one of five weather states: sunny, partly cloudy, cloudy, rainy, or stormy. These are completely dependent on the temperature – think of it as the quick view. The stormier it is, the more rankings changed. If it's really hot and stormy, odds are good that something big changed in the algorithm.
Get Twitter Updates
We've also created a new Twitter account @mozcast – stay tuned there for daily weather reports, feature updates, and occasional deep dives into unusual events. If you're at Mozcon, I'll be at the Garage party tonight and around all day Friday, so please feel free to stop me and ask questions about MozCast. I hope it keeps you out of the rain, even here in Seattle.
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As the weather spins into the post-normal — more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) — our aging infrastructure is failing, and we are going to see much more serious disruptions in the future because our governments a/ don’t want to talk about the climate (too scary) and b/ are laying off the workers that we should be using to fix the power lines, train tracks, roadways and bridges.
Matthew Wald and John Schwartz, Rise in Weather Extremes Threatens Infrastructure via NYTimes.com
The frequency of extreme weather is up over the past few years, and people who deal with infrastructure expect that to continue. Leading climate models suggest that weather-sensitive parts of the infrastructure will be seeing many more extreme episodes, along with shifts in weather patterns and rising maximum (and minimum) temperatures.
“We’ve got the ‘storm of the century’ every year now,” said Bill Gausman, a senior vice president and a 38-year veteran at the Potomac Electric Power Company, which took eight days to recover from the June 29 “derecho” storm that raced from the Midwest to the Eastern Seaboard and knocked out power for 4.3 million people in 10 states and the District of Columbia.
In general, nobody in charge of anything made of steel and concrete can plan based on past trends, said Vicki Arroyo, who heads the Georgetown Climate Center at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, a clearinghouse on climate-change adaptation strategies.
Highways, Mr. Scullion noted, are designed for the local climate, taking into account things like temperature and rainfall. “When you get outside of those things, man, all bets are off.” As weather patterns shift, he said, “we could have some very dramatic failures of highway systems.”
Adaptation efforts are taking place nationwide. Some are as huge as the multibillion-dollar effort to increase the height of levees and flood walls in New Orleans because of projections of rising sea levels and stronger storms to come; others as mundane as resizing drainage culverts in Vermont, where Hurricane Irene damaged about 2,000 culverts. “They just got blown out,” said Sue Minter, the Irene recovery officer for the state.
In Washington, the subway system, which opened in 1976, has revised its operating procedures. Authorities will now watch the rail temperature and order trains to slow down if it gets too hot. When railroads install tracks in cold weather, they heat the metal to a “neutral” temperature so it reaches a moderate length, and will withstand the shrinkage and growth typical for that climate. But if the heat historically seen in the South becomes normal farther north, the rails will be too long for that weather, and will have an increased tendency to kink. So railroad officials say they will begin to undertake much more frequent inspection.
Some utilities are re-examining long-held views on the economics of protecting against the weather. Pepco, the utility serving the area around Washington, has repeatedly studied the idea of burying more power lines, and the company and its regulators have always decided that the cost outweighed the benefit. But the company has had five storms in the last two and a half years for which recovery took at least five days, and after the derecho last month, the consensus has changed. Both the District of Columbia and Montgomery County, Md., have held hearings to discuss the option — though in the District alone, the cost would be $1.1 billion to $5.8 billion, depending on how many of the power lines were put underground.
Even without storms, heat waves are changing the pattern of electricity use, raising peak demand higher than ever. That implies the need for new investment in generating stations, transmission lines and local distribution lines that will be used at full capacity for only a few hundred hours a year. “We build the system for the 10 percent of the time we need it,” said Mark Gabriel, a senior vice president of Black & Veatch, an engineering firm. And that 10 percent is “getting more extreme.”
Even as the effects of weather extremes become more evident, precisely how to react is still largely an open question, said David Behar, the climate program director for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission. “We’re living in an era of assessment, not yet in an area of adaptation,” he said.
In the post-normal we will never have the luxury of time to assess and then adapt. Linear problem-solving approaches will simply not work anymore.
The biggest problem is that people’s thinking patterns are stuck in the old days, and I don’t just mean their expectations about ‘normal’ weather. No, even worse is that people can’t accept the reality that in the post-normal we will never have the luxury of time to assess and then adapt. Linear problem-solving approaches will simply not work anymore.
But this is not a call for more old world leadership, characterized by moving fast, and looking for permanent ‘solutions’ to well-defined and researched ‘problems’. Instead, we need leaders demonstrating the ‘VUCA Prime’ characteristics, as Bob Johansen has styled it.
Denise Caron makes the break between the old world and the new one very clear:
We are moving from a world of problems, which demand speed, analysis, and elimination of uncertainty to solve, to a world of dilemmas, which demand patience, sense-making, and an engagement of uncertainty.
So, in this context, there is no ‘solution’ to infrastructure stress and failure based on more violent weather. We are stuck in a problem space which is fundamentally unsolvable, but we have to try to make sense of this in the context of the larger world.
For example: the financial constraints of our weakened economy mean that we may not be able to repair the interstate highway system, but we might extend and maintain the train system for people moving. Do we have the foresight to disinvest in the highway system? Can we shift from a truck-based logistics system to boats, trains, and airships long-distance hauling?
We are just as trapped in our thinking as we are in a rapidly changing global weather system, and without leaders with the mindset and skillset geared for the post-normal world, we will never find our way out.
Currently Replaces Chrome’s New Tab Page with a Minimalist Weather and Time Display [Chrome Extensions]
Chrome: Chrome’s default new tab page is handy resource for your most clicked links, but not everyone needs it. If you’re looking for something a little different, Currently is an extension that adds a simple, but useful weather forecast to Chrome’s new tab page. More »