Changes In the Industry: What does ClearAg Bring to DTN?

May 11, 2020

The latest news in the weather industry is DTN’s recent purchase of ClearAg, the agriculture and weather analytics segment of Iteris. To get a sense of what ClearAg offers to DTN, we thought we’d look back at our conversation with Brent Shaw, vice president of software engineering and content for Iteris, from May 2019.

Here are some topics highlighted during that conversation:

Forecast accuracy. Brent feels that incremental weather forecast improvements are on an asymptotic curve, where it takes considerable effort to realize improvements. He emphasizes that it’s important to understand the return on investment of R&D efforts so they can be prioritized to maximize the effect on advancement.

Proliferation of weather sensors and the push for GPU computers. While much has been made about more sensors and higher resolution, Brent says it really depends on the issue trying to be solved. Meteorologists want as much data as they can obtain, but getting information about the three-dimensional volume of the atmosphere is needed most, rather than the ground level data that new sensors, such as those from phones, can provide. Additional observations are not likely to revolutionize forecast accuracy; models that capture the best understanding of the atmosphere are key to improving models. Quality of data is more important quantity.

The “next big thing” in forecasting. Brent thinks the next big thing in forecasting is not actually about weather forecasting, but rather converting weather forecasts into information that creates value in decision making. He sees the power of predictive weather analytics increasing, so that users can get to the actual answer they need without having to think about the weather. Brent says much of this progress will take place through application of machine learning and artificial intelligence so that, for example, information will be sent directly to machines in fields to determine what treatments are required.

To learn more about Brent’s experience at Iteris and his thoughts on weather forecast accuracy, visit our blog.

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