Severe weather events are becoming more frequent and more destructive due to climate change. Governments around the world are seeking ways to predict these events better and protect their citizens. However, many lack the tools and capabilities to forecast and communicate weather risks adequately.
In fact, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction has found that only half of countries globally are protected by multi-hazard early warning systems. That number is even lower for developing countries where less than half of the Least Developed Countries and one-third of Small Island Developing States have multi-hazard EWS in place. In 2022, the UN Secretary-General set the goal: “All people on Earth must be protected by early warning systems within five years.”
That’s where private tech companies like Tomorrow.io come in. We are partnering with agencies to provide cutting-edge weather data, modeling, and communication tools to drive more informed decisions and keep people safe.
In a recent conversation with Tomorrow.io’s VP of Government Affairs, Thomas Cavett tells us how private and public collaboration is innovating solutions to bring new tech and advanced EWS to organizations needing them.
Collaborating to Tackle Complex Challenges
Before we talk about solutions for complex weather challenges, we need to understand how these two sectors have sought to collaborate in the past. According to Thomas, governments have historically funded weather infrastructure like satellites and radars. But innovations in technology now allow private companies to play a bigger role.
“Historically, governments funded weather infrastructure like satellites and radars. Private companies couldn’t afford it. But technology advances now allow private innovation in observations, modeling, and forecast delivery.
In developed regions, the private sector mainly provides supplemental services like specialized models. While in developing areas with poor infrastructure, private solutions can fill major gaps and provide sustainability.” says Thomas.
These private solutions can have a much bigger impact in developing nations with poor infrastructure versus in developed areas. By bringing capital and nimble solutions, companies can help fill major gaps where governments have not yet been able to find a sustainable solution for all.
Providing Better Forecasts to Save Lives and Property
As we discuss solutions, we must also consider what major weather issues are causing difficulties for government agencies and organizations to deal with.
When asked about the major weather issues facing agencies today, Cavett points to increased volatility from climate change. Record flooding, fires, and severe storms are straining resources.
Thomas says, “It’s the ability to understand what’s going to happen, how bad is it going to be? And where? All of those kinds of nuances drive really big decisions. Whether that’s protecting lives and property or, on the economic side, thinking about business operations and efficiencies that can be gained from, ‘Do I operate today or not? What can I do today to get around the fact that this weather is impacting my business?”
The most critical need is improving forecast accuracy and specificity across hazards. A better understanding of extremes can drive preparations that protect lives and property. There are also major economic implications, as weather impacts business operations.
Leveraging Private Sector Capabilities
Companies like Tomorrow.io, which are building software and hardware to advance global weather forecasting, are already partnering with governmental organizations to address key weather issues through data and technology.
These collaborations offer many benefits for governments; Cavett outlines several key benefits, including
- Private investment – Private companies bring private investment and reduce taxpayer burden to allow for nimbler innovation.
- Dual-use capabilities – Commercial applications lower costs for taxpayers to access advanced solutions
- Specialization – The private sector can build customized solutions for each agency’s unique use cases.
According to Thomas, “We don’t have all of the constraints of a government entity and because we can have dual use for what we’re building, meaning the commercial sector is paying for the products and services we’re building, but then the government can also leverage that it reduces their cost. This means the ROI to the taxpayers is higher because what they have to spend to get that same level of service is much lower because they’re, we’re collaborating together.”
Tomorrow.io’s Innovative Partnerships
Tomorrow.io collaborates with agencies worldwide to address critical weather issues.
We are doing a lot to advance global weather forecasting and support government agencies in keeping their citizens safe with accurate hyper-local weather data.
A few examples Cavett highlights:
- Enhanced U.S. modeling – Architecting next-gen forecast systems for NOAA to modernize modeling.
- Improved developing world insights – Providing advanced Africa reanalysis to enable better climate resilience planning.
- Strengthening early warning systems – Working with local agencies to improve flash flood prediction and alerts.
Improving Decision-Making Through Better Data Access
With proprietary platforms and infrastructure, agencies are limited to the capabilities of a single provider. However, opening up weather data access allows purchasing specialized, commercial solutions.
Cavett explains this is key because needs vary dramatically across agencies. More flexible procurement better equips each organization with tailored tools to address their unique challenges.
“The private sector can really be there to support building better communication tools, filling gaps with observations, and also improving the models across the board.”
Enabling Impact Through Collaboration
When asked how to drive more impactful public-private partnerships, Cavett stresses the need for open dialogue. By communicating real-world problems, governments can leverage private sector innovations rather than prescribe rigid solutions.
“I think the most important piece is having more open dialogue, whether that’s domestically or internationally, between the public sector and private sector, where the public sector can say, here are the problems that we have, and the private sector can say, here are the solutions.”
What happens now is that government agencies will tell us what solution they want without fully grasping the full picture.
With climate change accelerating, now is the time for increased collaboration. Together, public and private entities can create new paradigms for predicting and preparing for severe weather. More accurate forecasts and effective communication will save lives while optimizing economic and societal outcomes.
Looking to the Future
As we look forward to more advancements in weather technology and the growth of Tomorrow.io, Thomas highlights two key innovations that could enhance public-private partnerships.
First is Tomorrow.io’s revolutionary satellite constellation. This will provide unprecedented weather data to improve modeling and decision-making globally.
Second is a focus on translating weather insights into actionable insights for operations. Rather than raw weather data, users get decision-relevant advice to drive desired outcomes.
By embracing capabilities from private innovators like Tomorrow.io, government agencies can better serve their citizens in the face of growing weather hazards. We can build resilience and thrive in an increasingly volatile climate with the right collaborations and technologies.