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Indranil Sarkar

Indranil is a weather industry expert with a decade long experience in the domain. He has been instrumental in setting up novel weather services across landscapes for both agriculture and industry, raising capital and crafting a growth story for weather forecasting in India. Currently he is Senior Vice President of Express Weather.

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Crowdsourcing Look To Revolutionise Weather Forecasting

Crowdsourcing weather data is also an enormous opportunity (big data!) with India reaching the watershed of 1 billion mobile subscribers in October 2015

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Crowdsourcing and IoT set to revolutionise weather observation and consumption in India
In the 2008 superhero film The Dark Knight, Batman wields sonar technology to turn every mobile phone of Gotham into a microphone to image the city and locate Joker by tracing his voice. Though acquired unethically (without the consent of the citizens and disclosing any privacy policy), this is a brilliant example of use of crowdsourced data.

In real life, Google uses exact locations of mobile devices by tracking their GPS co-ordinates (with permissions that you give by accepting the terms and conditions of their app) and relative velocities of these moving co-ordinates (mobile phones circumnavigating the city) to determine the speed of traffic across the city.

Piece of cake.

Crowdsourcing weather data is also an enormous opportunity (big data!) with India reaching the watershed of 1 billion mobile subscribers in October 2015. One can imagine the power of 1 billion mobile devices transmitting live weather details in a data starved country like ours. Energy utilities can light up streets more efficiently by using visibility data piped into smart grids. Live information about a dip or spike in temperatures can help utilities respond to the power situation more economically. Weather mapping the entire country will become hugely comprehensive with almost no data gaps.

Internet Of Things completes the fusion by empowering everyday devices to use such data effectively. An IoT technology driven air conditioner adjusting to the temperature recorded at the airport is likely to result in disparate cooling (and power consumption). Cooling homes using temperature data from nearby mobile devices is hitting the nail on the head.

Weather information in agriculture helps farmers take vital decisions around the need for irrigation, and threat of diseases or pests and improve productivity. An important input for weather forecast data to be more meaningful (and accurate) is to identify micro climates.

Typically, weather prediction models use terrain data to achieve the desired outcome (of course, there is patchy atmospheric data as well!). Rural, internet connected mobile devices can not only establish these micro climates, they can reshape the appreciation for weather information in the agrarian economy.

By this time in this piece many of you might have formed an opinion that such pace is inconceivable in India (we might have one billion people but what about internet users?). Here are some numbers that will help you to turn into a believer. India had more than 213 million mobile internet users in 2015. The number is expected to grow to 314 million by 2017 (and more than half a billion by 2018). The share of rural users is likely to parallel the urban split in the next three years. Also, almost 60 per cent of news consumption is through mobile devices in our country which is also the third largest smartphone market in the world.

To sum up, we are potentially looking at 500 million weather sensors spread evenly across the country by 2018. Ergo, farms irrigated and cities lit up effectively and effortlessly.

Piece of cake.


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