How a bold innovation is enabling real-time weather data
The impact of climate change is hard to ignore. Natural disasters, like major floods, are increasingly devastating communities worldwide. But what if you had more insight into precise weather information beyond what today’s technologies like radar, single-location stations, and satellites can provide?
This is where microwave links can play a surprising, and impactful, role in keeping you dry. Because 90 percent of the world's population has cellular mobile coverage, microwave networks naturally provide more information over a much larger area than existing weather technologies: 4 million global microwave links worth of data. These microwave links experience power disturbances, known as attenuation, when it rains. A group of research scientists at Ericsson asked themselves: "couldn't we translate that power disturbance into real-time rain data?" We took a hard-to-solve problem and a bold idea, and turned them into an incubation project that we call Ericsson Weather Data.
Business and Technology
The concept of Ericsson Weather Data was introduced as an Ericsson Research demo at MWC Barcelona in 2014. The initial demo was over Zurich using network data from SALT in Switzerland, however it was not measured in real-time. Since then, we launched a pilot in collaboration with the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute (SMHI) to really understand their business needs, and spent nearly 3 years collecting rain measurements across live microwave links in Gothenburg, Sweden, using network data from Hi3G, a local operator.
"Gothenburg recently experienced flooding in Allum and Lundby. The storm passed by so quickly that radar did not adequately capture the event. The system provided by Ericsson, SMHI and Hi3G showed us that flooding did occur in these regions and validated the claims made by home and business owners."
- Håkan Strandner, Water Department, City of Gothenburg
6.3 million measurements were collected per day in Gothenburg. Results show a strong correlation (0.82) between the signal disturbance and the measured rainfall, even better than the correlation to nearby rain gauges (0.80) and radar (0.57). What's even more impressive is the ability to take measurements at as low as 10 second intervals. This granularity of coverage now available is invaluable for heavy, flood-type rainfall events.
An unexpected hero
Where radar and satellite fail, microwave links come to the rescue. With Ericsson Weather Data, granular rain data is used to improve detailed rain modeling and measure impacts to sewage, run-off, flooding, traffic and even more in cities. In developing areas with less radar and weather stations, you can improve forecasting and rain impacts to flooding, agriculture, disease outbreak, etc.
The possible use cases are vast:
Public stakeholders: Real-time alert system and emergency warnings
Water supply & sewage: Real time sewage monitoring, HydroElectric price prediction and improve overview of water resources and water harvesting
Transportation: Warnings for floods and landslides and improve real-time traffic routing
Insurance: Lower risk basis, improve weather indexing, continuous validation of risk assessment, validate 3rd party models, real-time alerts to customers and improve business continuity
Agriculture: Micro-insurance for farmers, improve planting, fertilization and harvesting cycles
A profound impact
Ericsson ONE is where we incubate new businesses and make bold innovation come to life. The Weather Data incubation project is part of the Ericsson ONE initiative, proving that microwave data can produce life-changing weather information. With the number of intense rain events and flooding increasing because of climate change, the need for accurate, real-time rain data will mean billions in global savings and more importantly, lessen the negative impact on millions of lives.
The World Meteorological Organization estimated global economic losses from natural catastrophes in 2017 to be a record-breaking USD 320 billion. In 2016, weather-related disasters displaced 23.5 million people. Consistent with previous years, the majority of these internal displacements were associated with floods or storms and occurred in the Asia-Pacific region.
Consequently, an innovative solution like this will positively contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals to transform our world, including #6 - clean water and sanitation, #9 - industry, innovation and infrastructure, #11 - sustainable cities and communities, and #13 climate action. A profound impact, indeed.
Sustainable Development Goals – 17 goals to transform our world
Visit Ericsson ONE to learn more about Ericsson Weather Data and discover how our collaboration projects explore the boundaries of cutting-edge technology and generate creative solutions to hard problems with partnership and innovation.