NOAA and Google Partnership Acts as Lightning Rod for New Weather Tech

By Thomas Price Saturday, October 31, 2020

Even among the many issues facing the world today, one constant that remains within the conversations of people everywhere is still the weather. It has an immediate impact on a person’s day and perhaps a stronger impact than any of the large threats and issues people face in general. With this in mind, the recently announced partnership between Google and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) could be considered significant news. As technology continues to advance, investments in climate and weather technology to improve our understanding of patterns and long-term trends could be a major step toward properly preparing for what lies ahead.

Partnership Between Google and NOAA

The partnership between Google and the NOAA deals specifically with the NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service, otherwise known as NESDIS. The partnership is categorized as a three-year Other Transaction Authority agreement between NESDIS and Google. It will cost approximately $10 million, which will be shared between both Google and the NOAA. The main objective of the partnership will be to expand the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) capabilities to further enhance and uncode the already strong data coming from the NOAA’s satellites and environmental research. The NOAA already has a veritable constellation of satellites, which are constantly transmitting data and imagery. In fact, that constellation is going to expand soon. NOAA is planning to broaden its scope while it continues to upgrade and replace existing satellites in order to ensure the best equipment and data are available for use. What Google and NESDIS hope to accomplish is to create a complete environmental monitoring system, more accurate weather predictions, continue climate research, and improve general technological advancement in the field. Google will also be offering AI training to NESDIS staff to help uplift the workforce into preparedness.

Google and NESDIS plan to achieve these goals through two basic phases. The first phase will see the collaboration work on developing a small-scale version of the AI and ML systems, which they hope to implement using Google Cloud as a major tool for data storage and processing. This small-scale version will then be tested by simply operating as best as possible. After sufficient data and resources have been accrued to yield results, Google and NESDIS will analyze those results to then determine the success of the system that has been developed. If successful, they will then expand to full-scale prototypes, which will eventually be activated across all areas of the NOAA. This partnership could drastically speed up the rate at which the administration uses data, which will make the data more valuable as well. In the meantime, the NOAA will also be completely restructuring their IT systems to ensure a seamless procession of data with Google’s help.

Possible Benefits of the Partnership

The partnership’s efforts pertain to the public mostly through the possible major effects it could have on weather predictions, particularly extreme weather. If the AI and ML systems are to be accurate and successful, the NOAA will be able to detect and predict hurricanes and tornadoes earlier and with better precision, which could potentially save many lives. Especially considering that the NOAA already has an abundance of satellite and environmental data, the ability to process, disperse, and understand that data can make a significant difference in properly preparing a community for an oncoming natural disaster.

Final Conclusions

The $10 million partnership between Google and the NOAA is set to revolutionize weather technology through the use of AI and ML, vaulting the field into the future. As the collected data is better processed and understood, both the safety of those in areas prone to extreme weather and possible economic prosperity could be garnered from this partnership. In the meantime, updated IT systems should help the government administration take better advantage of the tools that are expected to be developed together with Google. At the very least, it could ensure that the small talk about the weather is far more accurate than it used to be.

About the Author


Headshot of Thomas Price

Tom Price is a writer focusing on Entertainment and Sports Features. He has a degree from NYU in English with a minor in Creative Writing. He has been previously published for Washington Square News, Dignitas, CBR, and Numbers on the Boards.

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