DRI Research Team Unveils Weather Intelligence Platform at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco

RENO – As Nevada and California endure a fourth year of unprecedented drought and this year’s Sierra Nevada snowpack is verified as a 500-year low, a group of Ph.D. scientists from Nevada are knocking on the front door of the tech-industry with a pitch for investment in next generation weather intelligence.

Unveiled today at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, a weather intelligence platform developed by DRI’s Applied Innovation Center (AIC) showcases a real-world application for managing business and government decisions impacted by extreme weather.

“Our team has designed a platform that not only provides improved weather forecast data, but also translates that data into actionable information across a range of business sectors,” said Eric Wilcox, Ph.D., an associate research professor of climatology at the Desert Research Institute. “We have drawn on decades of combined scientific expertise in observing and modeling the environment, which is essential for understanding how to derive actionable insight from weather data, and using sensors to effectively ground-truth our forecasts.”

WINDSTM (Weather Intelligence and Numerical Decision Support) is an applied prediction platform at the nexus of weather, climate, agriculture, energy and society, explained Brian Speicher, AIC Business Development Leader.

DRI’s new platform improves upon traditional numerical weather prediction (NWP) applications with a fine spatial resolution suitable for urban, energy, and agricultural applications. It is also ground-truthed through a series of existing environmental data and sensor networks that DRI scientists have monitored and maintained for decades.

“We have integrated an advanced numerical weather forecasting system with sensor networks to provide actionable insight and decision support frameworks that can be applied in nearly every natural resource industry and weather-impacted business, utility, event, or municipality,” Speicher added. “This (WINDSTM) can be applied to everything from drought monitoring to extreme fire behavior, to operational energy demand and distributed solar forecasting, to urban weather and anticipating weather-related infrastructure vulnerabilities.”

Supported by the State of Nevada’s Knowledge Fund and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the team of environmental researchers and high performance computing experts in DRI’s Applied Innovation Center are working at the forefront of new approaches to natural resource and urban infrastructure instrumentation, advanced data collection and integrated analysis to support intelligent decision-support systems.

“None of this would have been possible without the tremendous support of Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, his Office of Economic Development and the Nevada Legislature’s approval and confidence in the Knowledge Fund,” said Joseph Grzymski, Ph.D., AIC Senior Director and associate research professor of computational biology and microbiology at DRI. “We have been working over the past year to launch this platform at TechCrunch. This is an extraordinary opportunity to advance our technology-based research capabilities with real-world applications that directly address industry needs in weather prediction, energy and agricultural applications.”

“We are in the midst of a massive drought here in Nevada and California,” he added. “DRI scientists are responding by building the next generation of tools and applications to improve our ability to manage energy and water resources. Precision agriculture and energy management are keys to our future economy.”

Extreme weather events such as the ongoing drought and mega-fires in the West, record-setting hurricanes in the East, and flash floods across the Mid-West cause upwards of $11 billion in damages each year in the United States.

According to a recent U.S. Commerce Department report, weather data is the single most accessed government data by the public. The sum of private and public sector investment on weather forecasting totaled $5.1 billion in 2014. The aggregate annual valuation of weather forecasts across U.S. households was about $31.5 billion – a six-fold difference compared to the amount invested in producing the forecasts.

"With funding from the Knowledge Fund, DRI’s Applied Innovation Center is proudly showcasing Nevada’s innovation on one of the largest tech-industry stages in the country. The opportunity to attract business and investment to Nevada in these industries is unlimited,” said Steve Hill, Executive Director of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015 is TechCrunch’s ninth annual conference in San Francisco. The format combines top thought-leader discussions with new product and company launches. Morning executive discussions debate technology-driven disruptions in many industries, while the afternoons are reserved for the Startup Battlefield, where 20-plus new companies will launch for the first time onstage, selected to present from numerous applications received from around the world. The winning company will receive a $50,000 grand prize and the Disrupt Cup at the conclusion of the conference.

Evolved from decades of data intensive pursuits at DRI, the Applied Innovation Center is leading the Institutes’ technology-based research and commercialization efforts in four key research areas and emerging platforms – Life Sciences and Informatics; Climate, Weather and Energy; Internet-of-Things (IoT) and Remote Sensing; and Engineering and Design.

For more information and to schedule interviews please contact Justin Broglio, Communications Officer. Justin.Broglio@dri.edu Mobile: 775-762-8320

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About the DRI Applied Innovation Center: The Applied Innovation Center aims to aid and improve the new, knowledge-based economy in Nevada by integrating DRI’s core areas of expertise in hydrologic, atmospheric, earth and ecosystem sciences with data analysis and informatics, visualization, modeling and simulation.

About TechCrunch Disrupt: TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2015 is TechCrunch’s ninth annual conference in San Francisco. The format combines top thought-leader discussions with new product and company launches. Morning executive discussions debate technology-driven disruptions in many industries, while the afternoons are reserved for the Startup Battlefield, where 20+ new companies will launch for the first time onstage, selected to present from numerous applications received from around the world. The winning company will receive a $50,000 grand prize and the Disrupt Cup at the conclusion of the conference. The conference is September 21-23, 2015 at Pier 70 in San Francisco.