IBM and The Weather Company Collaborate on Emergency Management for Cities

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The FINANCIAL — As the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season gets underway, communities in severe weather-prone regions are anxiously tracking pending storms and working to create effective disaster response plans. IBM, through its strategic alliance with The Weather Company and its global B2B division WSI, on June 22 announced a new emergency management solution that features sophisticated analytics and the use of real-time weather data to help communities predict and plan for natural disasters far more accurately 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, and applies deep analytics, data visualization and real-time collaboration to help agencies coordinate and manage response efforts during natural disasters, common emergencies and incidents, according to IBM.

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 ½days 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.

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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 (i.e. who gets hit the hardest, where the rain/snow line will be, etc.). 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 better, more informed decision making.

“IBM is providing innovative emergency management tools that equip city officials with what they need to predict and prepare for any emergency,” said 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,” said 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,” said 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.”

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