Expand use of weather data to help businesses flourish in various fields

The Yomiuri ShimbunMany industries such as retail and tourism are affected by the weather. It is hoped that meteorological data will be used for business purposes to stimulate the economy.

The Japan Meteorological Agency gathers data from rain gauges and thermometers in various locations as well as satellites. A huge amount of data, including past observation records and future forecasts, can be said to be valuable public assets.

Private weather news companies provide services with detailed forecasts by adding their own observation data to the JMA’s data. This information is now indispensable for the operation of public transportation, among other areas.

The JMA releases the basic data free of charge, while private weather companies develop more advanced services to meet customer needs. It is important to promote the division of roles between the public and private sectors, and expand the range of how meteorological data is utilized.

The JMA, private weather companies and other firms are jointly studying how to use the data. For example, when temperatures fall below 22 C, hot drinks start selling more from vending machines. By making more hot beverages available based on weather forecasts, sellers will not miss opportunities.

Utilization of weather data will have a positive impact on corporate management.

Raise awareness of benefits

In the apparel industry, there is a smartphone service that suggests clothes for users to wear based on weather and temperature. In the tourism industry, there are facilities that attract visitors by offering discounted admission fees on days when rain is forecast.

A long-established restaurant in Mie Prefecture has developed a system to predict the number of visitors by combining weather data and past sales, among other information. Not only did sales quadruple, the system also helped boost employees’ salaries and the rate of paid holidays taken.

However, such use of weather data is not widespread. Quite a few companies do not even come up with the idea of using such data in the first place. It is necessary to raise awareness, via educational events, of the benefits of using data.

Many small and midsize companies lack the knowledge and technology to handle data. The JMA should make efforts to provide data that can be easily understood even by nonexperts. Private weather news providers must also prepare offerings that take into account the current state of each company.

The role of meteorological data in disaster prevention is also important. In recent years, due in part to the effects of global warming, localized downpours have become more common, and as a result, the importance of more detailed forecasts has increased.

In addition to the data provided by the JMA, about 250 municipalities also receive information services from private weather news agency Weathernews Inc., which provides such data as detailed rainfall forecasts and risk of flooding for individual areas. It is essential to use various data to make such decisions as evacuating residents.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 25, 2019)Speech


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