Using big data to make America safe

Connecting sensors to the internet, collecting massive amounts of data, and turning it into intelligence—that’s what Bob Marshall aims to do as CEO of Earth Networks.

For 20 years, Earth Networks has been operating the largest weather sensor network in the world. The big data company collects information from weather sensors, cameras and some of the world’s most advanced lightning detection devices to improve everyday life and help the government.

“We pioneered the public-private partnership, particularly when it comes to data,” says Marshall.

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Before Earth Networks, the National Weather Service operated its own sensor networks. This allowed NWS to collect its own data, but it wasn’t enough. Now, the government benefits immensely from its partnership with Earth Networks.

“They get more data, they get better data, and they get it for less cost,” says Marshall.

“We actually monetize our network in many different ways, so the federal government only has to pay a small fraction of what it would cost them to do it on their own.”

Big data companies like Earth Networks also make the lives of homeowners and consumers easier and safer, says Marshall.

“Our network has the capability to double the warning time on tornadoes,” says Marshall. “That has a very direct impact on consumers.”

Not only can mass data collection allow for earlier and better prediction, but it can improve connectivity in the home.

Marshall told What’s Working in Washington that the network can make home appliances smarter and better at working together. After collecting information about insulation, for example, Earth Networks can then build a model of an individual’s home and send tailored instructions to its thermostat.

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“We can actually save 16% additional energy, which is meaningful money,” says Marshall. “Hundreds of dollars a year for the average homeowner.”

According to Marshall, collecting data and turning it into intelligence can actually save lives, money and maybe even the environment.

Listen to entire May 22 show: