Wednesday, January 28, 2015   |   Business Intelligence, Scientific Development

The Perfect Brainstorm: How a Pioneering Weather Company is Changing the Way We Think about Data

The human brain can hold a staggering amount of complex data. Scientific American estimates that the average brain can store up to 2.5 petabytes of information, thanks to an intricate web of neurons firing off billions of signals every second. That capacity is immense—you would have to leave your television running for a solid 300 years simply to match the amount.

Baron, a weather intelligence company based in Huntsville, Ala., knows a lot about the importance of data management when it comes to making the public safer and better prepared for weather. In fact, it only takes Baron just over a year to process the same amount of information that the human brain can hold.  That’s more data in an average year than social media giant Twitter.

Bob Dreisewerd, chief development officer at Baron, stressed the significance of the data that the company manages. “Because millions of people rely on Baron critical weather data daily, it is of utmost importance that all our systems are robust, scalable, and redundant.” In order to accomplish this, the company manages its data within a highly sophisticated infrastructure.

A Case Study in Infrastructure

In 2014, eight weather and climate events in the U.S. caused losses exceeding $1 billion in damage. Clearly, no one is immune to the consequences of weather. With about 2/3 of the U.S. population relying on Baron data, the company uses multiple data centers, as well as cloud technologies, to ensure an uninterrupted flow of value-added information.

Pushing out 150TB of data per month isn’t trivial; it takes a team of degreed meteorologists, IT network specialists, and cutting-edge server infrastructure working 24/7/365 to make it all happen. But they make sure the quantity of data does not affect its quality. All information is continually updated, refined and validated, ensuring that distributed weather data is timely, accurate and precise.

“The meteorologists and radar engineers at Baron are always looking for new ways to push the state-of the-science in the field of meteorology,” said Matt Havin, the company’s data services manager. “To do that, we invest into the R&D to make new weather algorithms and methods a reality, along with the server hardware solutions to run those processes.”

So, how does the public benefit from these vast amounts of data processing?

  • 227 million people across the U.S. receive hyper-local weather forecasts and have access to critical intelligence on severe storms, potential tornadoes, winter weather and the path of hail.
  • Communities stay aware of the local effects of rainfall, smoke or urban air pollution.
  • 25 percent of general aviation pilots receive real-time weather information delivered directly to the cockpit.
  • Drivers of more than 30 vehicle models (including those from Acura, Lexus/Toyota, Porsche and others) receive location-specific road weather information that helps guide them to the safest routes, and make the best driving decisions.

Committed to Weather Safety

Baron fosters an environment of growth and commitment to improving the safety of individuals when it comes to significant weather, helping them make the smart and informed decisions when the need for precise information is critical. No matter the weather, that’s brainpower from which everyone benefits.