In addition to providing millions of people with the time to protect their families and property from extreme weather, strong forecasting services have numerous business applications.

Creating a safe and liveable environment in the face of extreme weather is one of the most pressing challenges facing societies in the 21st century, but tools for minimizing the impacts are available today. Early warning systems can predict when and where extreme weather events like tropical cyclones or melt water foods will hit, providing millions of people with the extra time necessary to protect themselves, their families, and their possessions.

Advances in sensor technology as well as big data processing power, combined with a nearly universal access to mobile phones, make it possible to collect, process and deliver data for early warning more efficiently and faster than ever before. These attributes explain the relatively low cost of this opportunity, which if done wisely can be realized for an investment of just a few billion USD worldwide per year. Achieving this will require efforts to secure open data and international collaboration.

The potential for saved lives and property alone is estimated to outweigh the costs by a factor of at least 2 to 5. However, many sectors from construction to health care can also experience the benefits of better forecasts during times of “normal” weather. Accounting for these efficiency gains, the benefits of investing in better meteorological services are estimated to be up to 30 times larger than the costs.

As an additional application, this opportunity can give contractors, city planners, and politicians the tools to predict which areas will be threatened by extreme weather in the coming decades. This will enable them to make better-informed choices to protect construction and infrastructure investments worth trillions of dollars per year.

Survey Findings

Early Warning and Forecasting Services is a highly-rated market opportunity in North America, when assessed for its potential positive impact on society. Across all other regions, the market opportunity also receives generally positive assessments and in our 2014 survey, it outperformed the other market opportunities addressing the global challenge of extreme weather.

Respondents from the finance sector see this opportunity with high potential when assessing the positive impact, it will have on their business. They are also positive when assessing its potential to inspire new venture creation.

While respondents from the governmental and manufacturing sectors also see optimistically on the positive effect on their business from this market opportunity, they are much less likely to pursue new business ideas inspired by it.

Survey respondents perceive stakeholders within business and civil society to be the strongest supporters of this opportunity.

This market was surveyed globally in 2014 by more than 5500 leaders from both the public and private sectors. The survey was conducted in collaboration with the research company YouGov. The survey results were originally published in the Global Opportunity Report 2015.

Global Goals addressed