Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Deep Thunder: Even the Name is Cool!

Heads up!

This piece is heavily biased.  Why, you ask?  Because I learned about it through an Op-ed in Live Science.  An op-ed about the Deep Thunder software, written by Lloyd Treinish, chief scientist of IBM's Deep Thunder program. Best. Program name. Ever.

See?  I told you it was heavily biased.

But it's so cool!!!

Deep Thunder is weather prediction software of the most awesome variety.  Basically, research to create Deep Thunder began due to the fact that our standard weather prediction software is rather... uh... crappy.

There's a reason people always make fun of meteorologists, and it's not because they're really that dopey... it's because the prediction software they use... isn't good at predicting.  Not really, anyway.

So, in steps Deep Thunder.

(Sorry... I just really like the name.  Can't. Stop. Using. It. Deep Thunder! Weeee!)

What's the story behind it, you ask?  What exactly makes me think it's awesome (besides the spy movie type name)?  The Deep Thunder web page states:
"The project, which was originally set up in the IBM Research department known as Mathematical Sciences (now called Business Analytics and Mathematical Sciences), pivoted from a hardware focus to services and software. "We learned that the business driver was the most important factor," says Treinish. "And we started to focus on niche business problems that were weather sensitive and look for the market gaps we could fill."
For example, with the right combination of precision weather prediction and business analytics insights, airlines and airports could better manage the logistical nightmare of weather-generated delays. Flights could be re-routed or consolidated more efficiently.
Equipped with highly specific information on wind, temperature and other factors, fire fighters could battle wildfires more effectively." (source)
You're thinking, "Big deal", right?  Yeah, I understand that.  

But here's the thing.  This software can use data mining to tell emergency crews which areas were hit hardest during a storm.  It can tell them how many hospital beds are available in the surrounding hospitals.

And then there's farming. 

Remember me talking about how much water is wasted in the food production/consumption process in my June 16th post about food and water waste?  Well, as the op-ed I mentioned in the beginning of this article states:
"With high accuracy, Deep Thunder can deliver hyper-localized weather conditions up to three days in advance, with calculations as fine as a single mile and as granular as every 10 minutes.
In practical terms, a farmer armed with precise weather forecasting information may choose to hold off on fertilizing an area of a farm expecting heavy rains; or, he may irrigate only that portion of the farm that will not receive rainfall. With 70 percent of the world's freshwater supply already going to agriculture, every drop counts." (source)
Now you begin to see why I'm so excited!  Imagine farmers having that kind of control over their crop management.  It's not just huge in terms of water waste (or lack thereof), it's cool because that would be less expense for the farmers themselves!


Like I said in the beginning, though, this is very heavily biased.  I got the information from a biased source and  I don't personally know anything about weather prediction software... except that it's not generally accurate.

And this just may be.

And Deep Thunder is a really cool name.

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