When a hurricane approaches the coast, there is no time to waste. The sooner residents in the danger zone are informed of the approaching threat, the more likely it is that human lives and property will be spared the worst. Storms cause thousands of human deaths every year and damage to materials amounting to tens of billions of euros.
‘Forecasts of hurricane tracks have developed considerably over the past 20 years, but there has been no similar improvement in the assessment of their intensity’, says Jonas Lindblad from Hurricane Unwinder.
There is a dire need for better information: if the intensity of a hurricane increases by one category on the five-category scale of Saffir-Simpson, it translates to a six-fold change in damages. For example, a category 4 hurricane causes damage that is about 250 times worse than the damage caused by a category 1 storm.
Machine vision ensures longer preparation time
The development of hurricanes is currently widely monitored in 6-hour cycles, but Hurricane Unwinder aims to update the data every 15 minutes.
‘Hurricane Unwinder gives people more time to prepare for a hurricane the best way possible. When information reaches people a couple of hours earlier, it is easier to organise evacuation, and people can build protective structures around their homes, for example, by using sandbags. In such circumstances, all information is important, and the sooner the information is passed on, the better’, Lindblad emphasises.
When compiling forecasts to assess the intensity of hurricanes, typhoons and tropical cyclones, the company utilises high-resolution satellite images, scientific data derived from these images, as well as machine vision and IoT technology. The interest in the software service is greatest among governments, insurance companies and parties working with disaster management.
Established by Svante Henriksson and Antti Pasila, the company joined the ESA BIC last month. In addition to forecasting the intensity of hurricanes, the company’s other longer-term goal is to innovate ways to weaken them.
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