Canadian Underwriter

IBM service would let insurers ‘extract insight from connected vehicles,’ alert clients of hailstorms

April 1, 2015   by Canadian Underwriter

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IBM Corp. announced this week it will introduce a computing service “that helps insurance companies extract insight from connected vehicles” and that The Weather Company’s professional unit will integrate its data with IBM’s analytics and cloud services.

IBM Corp. says WSI Weather Alert lets insurance firms send policyholders text messages warning them of weather that could cause vehicle losses.Cloud computing is essentially a name for a service whereby organizations use someone else’s computer server and storage hardware for their own applications.

In a press release Tuesday, Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM said it “is building a cloud-based open platform” designed to help companies build “solutions” for the “Internet of things,” or IoT.

Boston-based Strategy Meet Action recently defined the IoT as “a network of trillions of physical things with embedded technologies that communicate or sense the internal or external environments of that physical thing, including people and animals.”

One service IBM announced this week was IoT Cloud Open Platform for Industries.

“For example, IBM will introduce a cloud-based service that helps insurance companies extract insight from connected vehicles,” IBM stated. “This will enable new, more dynamic pricing models and the delivery of services that can be highly customized to individual drivers.”

Related: Things Connected

Related: Clouds on the Horizon

IBM also announced a deal in which The Weather Company’s professional division, WSI Corp., will “shift its massive weather data services platform to the IBM Cloud and integrate its data with IBM analytics and cloud services.”

The Weather Company’s units include The Weather Channel, while WSI’s services for insurers include Weather FX Alert, WeatherFX Response and WeatherFX Replay, among others.

IBM says that WSI’s forecasting system uses data “from thousands of sources, resulting in approximately 2.2 billion unique forecast points worldwide, and averages more than 10 billion forecasts a day on active weather days.”

The Internet of Things and cloud computing “allow for collection of data from more than 100,000 weather sensors and aircraft, millions of smartphones, buildings and even moving vehicles,” IBM said.

Related: Insurer IT spending set to increase nearly 5% this year

The deal with WSI “builds upon IBM’s investment of $3 billion over the next four years in an Internet of Things (IoT) unit to develop a portfolio of cloud services, software and related intellectual property,” IBM stated. “WSI’s Weather Alert service, together with IBM Analytics, enables insurance providers to send policyholders text messages that alert them to impending hailstorms – and safe locations – so vehicles can be moved before damage occurs.”

Cloud computing services “include system infrastructure (e.g., computing, storage), application infrastructure (e.g., process server, database), full applications, information services (e.g., search) and business services (e.g., order fulfillment),” wrote David Cearley and Kyle Hilgendorf, analysts for Stamford, Conn.-based IT research firm Gartner Inc., in a paper released in 2014, titled Cloud Computing Innovation Key Initiative Overview.

“While weather prediction is increasingly precise and granular, business systems generally assume every day is the same,” IBM stated of its deal with WSI. “As a result, knowledge of impending extreme weather disruptions – or even routine disruptions that drive well understood behaviors and systemic reactions – don’t always trigger operational responses.”

But by using IBM’s services, WSI “will enable enterprise clients and industry ecosystems to more easily integrate WSI weather data – including rapidly updated forecasts – into their operations and decision-making,” IBM stated. “Once integrated with enterprise processes, weather data can be combined with data from supply chains, customer buying patterns and other sources to create more valuable insights.”

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