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October 1, 2014

MongoDB Teams with Weather Channel on Digital Alerts

George Leopold

Somebody is finally trying to do something about the weather.

The Weather Channel has begun transitioning its digital platforms, including its mobile apps running on iOS and Android, to MongoDB’s database. The new platform will allow the Weather Channel to serve weather alerts and other real-time information to an estimated 40 million users, the database specialist announced Oct. 1.

MongoDB said it would serve as the “data store” for all Weather Channel feeds and user information delivered by its digital aggregation engine.

The Weather Channel has been revamping its backend services on a cloud infrastructure to improve the way it delivers personalized weather information to mobile users, tablets and its heavily used website. “As part of our infrastructure redesign, we needed to ensure that new app development was never waiting on the back end,” Luke Kolin, vice president of architecture at The Weather Channel, said in a statement.

Kolin added that the shift to MongoDB would reduce the time needed to make changes in SQL from days to “a matter of hours.”

The Weather Channel claims its mobile app handles 2 million requests per minute along with weather updates from tens of thousands of locations around the world.

The mobile app launch is the first of several Weather Channel product launches to be served by the MongoDB ecosystem through the end of 2014. The partners said the database specialist would also serve weather and user data from the Weather Channel to the rest of the cable station’s digital properties.

The Atlanta-based cable channel singled out automation features in MongoDB’s MMS cloud service that is used to provision MongoDB systems. “We were concerned we were going to have to bake monitoring into the system” before adopting MMS, Kolin added.

The Weather Channel upgrades illustrate how commercial weather services along with the U.S. National Weather Service have been moving to deliver more weather information on mobile devices. Given the vast amount of weather data involved and the huge number of requests for real-time updates, the services of database specialist like MongoDB are bound to be in greater demand as more users get weather alerts on mobile devices.

Those efforts are being promoted by the National Weather Service as a more effective way to deliver weather alerts on severe storms. The amount of weather data is growing as weather forecasts go “hyper-local.”

The National Weather Service rolled out a next-generation weather model this week designed to help improve forecasts and severe weather warnings. The High-Resolution Rapid Refresh model allows forecasters to pinpoint specific neighborhoods under threat of tornados, hail and flash flooding, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees the National Weather Service.

NOAA said the model also would provide more information to air traffic controllers and pilots about turbulence and thunderstorms.

Increasingly, the weather service relies on commercial forecasters like the Weather Channel to get the word out. As the resolution of data-driven forecasting models increases, database companies are likely to play a larger role in how weather alerts are distributed to mobile users.

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