Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »
New APIs from Exelis for Weather Forecasters and Others
April 23rd, 2015 by Susan Smith
I’ve often thought that weather prediction was the only profession where the professionals could be wrong 90% of the time and still get paid a good salary. Perhaps the new application program interfaces from Exelis will change all that for the future of weather and meteorology.
GISCafe Voice spoke with Brian Bell, Exelis Helios product manager last week about Exelis’ release of three new application program interfaces (API) for weather forecasters, product managers and enterprise logistics operations managers. The APIs make it easy and convenient to access information products from the Helios™ platform and are delivered directly into their applications and systems.
“I’ve working with meterology for almost a decade applying geospatial perspectives to it,” said Bell. “The biggest things when it comes to weather observations is that it’s just not enough. 2011 was a year when everything that could go bad did go bad. 14-15 severe storms occurred, each with economic damages that totaled over $1 billion. At that point the weather enterprise looked at itself and said we’ve invested billions of dollars in all kinds of observation assets and we have a plethora of observation assets, why is this still happening? People in weather enterprise need more eyeballs on the ground. The citizenry of our country has always been concerned about weather. Originally their interest was for agriculture, but now the interest extends to the new types of concerns we face.”
Helios provides information products for companies and organizations that need accurate and timely weather conditions for validation, incorporation into commercial offerings, or as actionable information for real-time decision-making within their enterprises.
“We’ve aggregated 30,000 plus cameras, primarily from the Departments of Transportation (DOTs) but all in the public sector,” noted Bell. “We’ve actually used an Exelis core competency that is image science or analytics, so now we take those image frames to detect weather conditions, things like, is the visibility poor, is it changing, are the roads wet, is it raining, and we’re looking at snow and ice on the roads too.”
Helios data is part of a data set that the weather enterprise can actually use, that complements the existing three sources of data–-Radar, satellite and fixed assets located at airports. With this new data, they can actually provide new products and services.
Helios is not a forecasting tool, but it does provide observations that would initialize forecast models, for those customers in the forecasting business.
Specific geospatial data accessed in Helios are imagery, latitude and longitude of their observations and direction that observation is being taken at the time.
Bell predicts that some day these types of assets will actually be on vehicles, so they will become as important as sensors and third party apps in cars, potentially with cameras mounted on the cars. “We will be able to track vehicles and track the observations at the same time, giving you almost three of the four dimensions of spatial data.”
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