The weather has been something that we have had to deal with since we first crawled out of caves millions of years ago.
It has killed more people and caused more disruption than almost anything else throughout history. In some cases we have even taken to naming these weather phenomena, think of Katrina and you don’t think of a person, you think about the hurricane that hit New Orleans in 2005.
Even weather that is not necessarily as dangerous has a major impact on how we live our lives, from staying inside during rain, to wrapping up warm during snow.
We are increasingly seeing that connected devices could have an impact on how we are interacting with the weather and how we can protect ourselves against it.
But what exactly can connected devices do to help us?
Keeping Houses Warm
As we have seen in Boston and the surrounding area at the start of 2015, huge snowstorms can cause chaos and leave people stranded in their houses. This creates several issues that connected devices can solve.
Chief amongst these is the use of power data from smart sensors.
It is important for energy usage to be monitored by energy companies to make sure that they do not overload systems or overproduce.
Connected devices allows companies to see how much power is being used and these can allow for levels from power plants or gas pipelines to adjust accordingly.
Making Cars Safer
At present Ford are experimenting using sensors to make their cars smarter. This will allow them to communicate their data back to the company and make changes. This will help for their everyday use too.
If a car can detect that it is experiencing reduced traction due to ice or snow, this can then be communicated to other cars and allow their drivers to take extra precautions if they are driving in the same area.
Even when working internally, in future we are likely to see automated safety changes to car setups whilst still driving to take into consideration the changes in conditions. We have seen this to an extent with the use of sensors to identify when it is raining and turning on the windscreen wipers.
In future this could change everything from the suspension to the tire pressures, purely to make sure that the car is set up to keep the occupants as safe as possible.
Helping People Avoid Allergies
One of the world’s most common allergies is hay fever, the allergy to pollen.
For some this is a mild irritation, whilst for others it can be a guaranteed way to ruin their day.
Connected devices can allow this to be a thing of the past, with wearables alerting sufferers when they are near areas which have a high pollen count. At present this can only be done through human input, which means that several areas could easily be missed, especially in more rural regions.
If sensors can pick up areas where the pollen count is particularly high, this information can then be sent directly to the sufferer who can then either take precautions or avoid the area.
More Accurate Predictions
British weather forecasts are famously poor. From the 1987 hurricane which Michael Fish famously claimed was not going to happen, to a forecast claiming one thing but a quick look out of the window proving another.
Connected devices allow for inaccurate predictions to be far more infrequent as connected sensors can communicate directly with systems rather than needing to be interpreted in the interim. This is arguably the most important development but in reality is going to be one of the easiest to implement.
We have seen that the British Met Office have already started the process, which they are doing on a huge scale with a supercomputer, but could be done on a much smaller scale almost anywhere in the world.
This kind of work could be vital for vast areas which may be sparsely populated. These are frequently the areas that also likely to have the highest concentration of agriculture, the industry that relies most on the weather.
So rather than just being a way to set a thermostat or make slight adjustments to machinery, connected devices could make a huge difference to how interpret and interact with the weather.