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IBM introduces Environmental Intelligence Suite

The tech giant said the new software suite from its weather subsidiary will help organizations prepare for climate risk and weather disasters such as wildfires and flooding.

IBM today launched its new Environmental Intelligence Suite, a set of AI-based software tools the tech giant said will help organizations prepare for and respond to weather and climate risks.

While IBM called the system the first application on the market that brings together AI, weather, climate risk analytics and carbon accounting, analyst Dan Miller of Opus Research said it isn't new technology -- but it is worthwhile.

The technology

"Nothing IBM is doing is new, and that's probably a good thing," Miller said. "It is the application of a time-tested technology outside of the advertising and commercial realm and into laudable efforts at risk mitigation and control of global warming."

It is the application of a time-tested technology outside of the advertising and commercial realm and into laudable efforts at risk mitigation and control of global warming.
Dan MillerAnalyst, Opus Research

The software comes at a much-needed time, Miller said. "Recent destructive weather events demonstrate a dramatic need for better forecasting and predictive treatment of what they are calling environmental intelligence," he said.

The Environmental Intelligence Suite will enable organizations to automatically streamline and manage environmental risks. To do this, the system uses weather data from IBM's subsidiary, The Weather Company.

IBM and The Weather Company

IBM acquired The Weather Company, which operates the widely used Weather Channel site and app, in 2016. Before then, the former owner of the Weather Channel had amassed "one of the largest machine-readable databases of weather information in the world," Miller said.

However, the way the Weather Company has used that data has at times been controversial. In 2019, the company and the weather channel ran into turbulence, including being sued by the city of Los Angeles for allegedly using the app to gather the location data of users. IBM has denied that allegation.

Since acquiring the weather technology vendor, IBM has data from The Weather Company along with its well-established Watson AI technology in deals with other vendors, such as when IBM Watson partnered with Salesforce.

"Five years together has given them plenty of time to define high-impact use cases," Miller said.

The Environmental Intelligence Suite comes from the IBM's AI Applications unit and is a standalone SaaS system that runs in multi-cloud environments. The AI and geospatial analytic technologies at the core of the suite were developed by the IBM Research division.

Organizations that use the software will be able to monitor environmental conditions such as flooding and wildfires. Enterprises can also use the tools to predict potential impacts of climate change and weather across their business using climate risk analytics, as well as measure and report on environmental initiatives and integrate carbon accounting.

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