Predicting rain using data from mobile networks

Posted on October 1, 2017  /  0 Comments

We wrote about this sometime back, that too referring to the Economist. Seems that Kenneth Cukier and Abu Saeed Khan are interested in the same kinds of things. But earlier, the talk was about reporting rain. Now it’s about predicting, which is way more interesting:

Though it is useful to know how much rain is falling right now, forecasting is even better. Telecoms data promise to make this easier as well. Some newer networks are sufficiently sensitive that they can detect humidity and fog, both of which are predictors of imminent rain. Newer generations of mobile-phone masts use shorter wavelengths in their transmissions, because these can carry more data. Serendipitously, that also permits tinier amounts of water to be detected, for moisture weakens short wavelengths more than long ones. Using data from about 5,000 towers operated by three telecoms firms in Israel, Pinhas Alpert of Tel Aviv University creates moisture maps that, he says, are far more precise than those drawn with data from the Israel Meteorological Service’s humidity gauges, of which there are fewer than 70.

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