Unisys Weather Information and Technology Solutions
Author(s): Brian Hughes, Posted on October 6th, 2017
Throughout history, science has relied on humans’ ability to observe and analyze the natural world. From the earliest discoveries of stars and galaxies, to the inventions of glass microscopes and electronic scanners that reveal the smallest parts of our world – observation is a key first step in developing accurate insights, understandings and predictions. Nothing has relied more on observations than the study of weather.
Humans have a keen interest in weather because of the way it affects us all. Not a single person can escape the powerful forces of nature, and the atmosphere, after all, it gives all of us life. Weather is a force that has shaped the way we live, think and act.
In order to first understand the weather, we must observe its impacts and influences on our world. Early scientists figured out how to measure temperature and barometric pressure by building precise glass tubes infused with heavy elements such as liquid mercury. The invention of radio enabled the very first “remote sensors,” which allowed the measurement of precipitation far from the observers’ location. And feeding those signals into early computers allowed us to measure location, distance and speed. In 1960, scientists quickly figured out that by attaching an infrared camera to a spinning satellite, we could take “pictures” of the tops of storms and look at very large swaths of Earth at once. Knowing how critical weather observations and forecasts are to commerce, business and the economy, the U.S. government formed the first Weather Bureau in the early 1800s.
From the early days of weather observations to today’s intricate technologies, many businesses have supported the “weather enterprise” by providing their capabilities to observe, transfer, share and analyze observational data. Unisys has been a major partner to both the government and private sector businesses by leveraging our strengths for high-speed data transformation and transmission, storage capabilities, cloud migration and mission-critical IT services. When the National Weather Service first began its major modernization effort in the 1980s and 1990s, Unisys was awarded work to develop, deploy and deliver major upgrades to the weather radar network with key capabilities to “see” into severe weather and detect small but potent circulations in thunderstorms that would have high probabilities in forming destructive tornadoes.
From there, Unisys was one of the first companies to package and sell weather data and derived information to the weather enterprise. Today, the weather enterprise is estimated to be a $7 billion per year market, with estimates upwards of $13 billion in the next five to 10 years. As more industries develop methods and harden operations to deal with severe weather, more data and more accurate forecasts are critical to the bottom line of those industries. Transportation, agriculture, energy, infrastructure, insurance and retail are just a few of the major industries becoming more dependent on timely and accurate weather data and information.
Unisys Weather excels in maintaining the critical networks and weather feeds required by clients in those industries. For over 20 years, Unisys has built and sustained a state-of-the-art Weather Data Center and Hub out of our Malvern, Pennslyvania, technology center. Unisys is the only company maintaining a satellite data transmission feed alongside the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) satellite feed, allowing extra reliability for clients and subscribers. Unisys’ NOAAPort Gateway system was one of the first weather ingest and processing systems built to ingest satellite weather feeds at speeds of up to 100 MB per second, allowing users to immediately access information from the new NOAA weather satellites. Unisys Weather also has developed innovative software processes which carefully inspect incoming weather radar data and removes false data and “non-weather” information. These processes are ultimately used by forecasters at NOAA’s Hurricane, Weather, Aviation and Storm Prediction Centers. This same information is also used by air traffic controllers at all of FAA’s Air Route Traffic Control Centers across the U.S.
Other companies which specialize in weather forecasts and information to the public rely on Unisys Weather capabilities to manage the data feeds and conversions so they can focus on their core businesses. Earth Networks, a company specializing in lightning detection and Internet of Things devices, use Unisys connections to multiple NOAA networks and our specialized data conversion services to power their web and mobile applications. AccuWeather, one of the world’s leading public and business weather services, relies on Unisys NOAAPort capabilities to ingest a variety of information sources from NOAA including weather models, radars, observations, satellite imagery and warning bulletins to deliver to worldwide clients. Delta Airlines has worked with Unisys Weather for many years and relies upon our critical satellite distribution network to power its passenger operations using Unisys technologies and weather data conversion software. Unisys also provides a large variety of weather information on the web for free, referenced by many professional and amateur weather blogs and sites.