Raytheon and WDT team up to offer big data-driven weather forecasts

As winter nears and extreme storm season ramps up, defense contractor Raytheon and Weather Decision Technologies (WDT) have announced a partnership that gives the international and commercial users of WDT’s services the same kind of big data-driven weather forecasting tools used by Raytheon customers like the National Weather Service.

According to a statement from Raytheon and WDT, the licensing agreement means that both companies “will jointly develop customized versions of WDT’s applications.” This gives users of WDT’s weather prediction programs access to state-of-the-art technology enabling them to create data-driven forecasts and warnings.

Prior to this agreement, WDT had already been using the software code available from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which falls under Raytheon’s Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) program, processing and disseminating weather data like severe storm warnings.

For members of both companies’ teams, the partnership is all about giving more people greater access to accurate and necessary weather predictions and alerts.

“We are both excited about what we can do with this partnership. We have complementary abilities,” William J. Sullivan, the director of Earth and Space Observing Solutions at Raytheon’s Intelligence, Information, and Services unit, told FoxNews.com.

WDT’s weather prediction services are used by a wide range of clients, including television stations, while Raytheon provides the essential data processing software that is utilized by the likes of the United States Air Force.

To collect the information that a company like WDT needs, Raytheon first detects, collects, and transmits environmental data to earth from its satellite-based VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) sensor and the S-NPP weather satellite. The information is then received by Raytheon’s ground system, which routes the data through fiber optic links to U.S. weather processing centers. The company’s Interface Data Processing System (IDPS) applies algorithms to convert the raw data to usable environmental data records, which are then translated by Raytheon’s AWIPS II system to be used by meteorologists in their weather reports.

For Oklahoma-based WDT, which employs about 90 people, the partnership is a great opportunity for a smaller company to provide and aggregate the most accurate global weather analytics, Michael Eilts, WDT’s president and CEO told FoxNews.com.

“Compared to Raytheon, we are a much smaller company,” Eilts said. “This is a huge opportunity to bring name-brand AWIPS technology to the rest of the world. Places like Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, benefit from this.”

All of this data is stored through cloud technology, and can be easily accessed by any of WDT's customers, Eilts said.

Eilts asserted that his company is able to deliver rapidly accessible weather data and analytics to a large number of clients. This is crucial for major weather events like hurricanes, which requires not only analyzing what is happening in the moment, but to also forecast “what’s happening in the next two hours and the next few days,” he said.

The partnership is still new. Eilts said that WDT’s collaboration with Raytheon only “just started in the last couple of weeks.”

“We are excited to start adopting the AWIPS functionality for our international customers,” he added.

Driving the partnership is the growing importance of making big data-driven information immediately available to as wide a population as possible.

“Look at the market, see the customers, and look at the importance of how real-time data allows for decisions to be made as quickly as possible,” Sullivan said. “It answers a huge customer need now. Right now, our work with the Air Force and the National Weather Service makes us the industry leader in environmental development processing. With WDT, we now have a very large, predominantly international market. We will work with WDT to help them customize their services and their products. “

For Eilts, it’s all about “bringing better analytics” to forecasters.

“Now having that AWIPS solution for forecasters allows them to analyze all that information quickly,” Eilts said. “It rivals what the National Weather Service can do, and that’s a huge thing for us.”