Four tips for selecting the right marine weather data partner to help accelerate your digitalization strategy

Digitalization is accelerating across the maritime sector. As noted by International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary General Kitack Lim earlier this year, “Digitalization, big data, and new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, are key in enabling the post-COVID recovery and taking shipping into this new era.”

Until fairly recently, the shipping industry relied heavily on traditional analog methods. However, it’s changing fast, with crewless vessels crossing the Atlantic and new blockchain platforms already coming online.

Across the maritime sector, the weather remains a challenge, but digitalization with resources like APIs can connect systems to enable in-house access to forecasts and weather data. This supports complete situational analysis and integrates different data sources into the decision-making process.

However, not all weather data is created equal, so it’s important to choose a partner that can deliver what you need and that understands what’s important to your success. Knowing what to look for and assessing the provider’s expertise will help you find the right one. Here are four factors to consider when choosing your weather data partner.


1. Location-specific data

Real-time weather information facilitates responsive decisions. When marine forecast models are tuned to a specific site, it improves forecast accuracy and operational decisions.

Location-specific forecasts will lower your costs and improve efficiencies because you’ll know what’s happening at that precise location — not just nearby.

This level of accuracy supports faster, more confident decisions that protect people and assets and reduce the financial impacts of adverse weather. This is only possible with models and forecast data that are continuously-validated via satellite, buoy, and private observation networks, so look for providers who can deliver.


2. Higher resolution models

High-resolution weather models solve the physical equations of forecasts in significantly greater detail and deliver greater accuracy. This is essential for safety.

For instance, modeling tropical storm systems in the greatest detail possible helps forecasters and master mariners better support vessels operating in the affected region.

At an operational level, this requires less interpretation of weather forecasts and drives faster decisions — perfect for providing operational support along coasts and near harbors.


3. An extensive range of weather parameters

Access to hundreds of weather parameters provides you with the details you need to solve any weather issue — even unforeseeable ones. For example, having access to just one wave height number may inspire a costly, incorrect operational decision. Wave energy in the ocean covers a whole 2D spectrum of different directions, frequencies, and energies. That one wave height number could be a sea-state, which is built up of swells from three different directions, with three different frequencies, and three different swell heights. One, two, or all of these swells could impact vessel performance and operational efficiencies. This is just one use case. Similar scenarios exist for all maritime weather parameters, including wind speed, currents, and more.


4. Expert-supported data

Integrating weather data is only part of the solution. If you don’t know how to interpret the data, it limits its benefits.

Whether or not you have in-house meteorologists, the ability to call on third-party assistance is a huge benefit when developing your use cases and applications.

There’s rarely a “black and white” decision in the maritime industry. Data overload is always a concern, which is why you’ll gain a competitive advantage in partnering with a data provider who understands your challenges.


Putting weather data to work

Once you find the right partner, it’s time to put the data to work. There are countless applications, but some common include:

  • Managing fuel bills, contract adherence, and claims: the latter, in particular, can run into millions of dollars, and accurate weather data can help validate claims.
  • Minimizing vessel idle time, optimizing fuel consumption, and reducing CO2: these measurements are far more accurate with integrated weather and vessel performance data.
  • Building custom weather routing and vessel tracking tools: access to reliable weather data helps your teams deliver better solutions and application builders can innovate beyond traditional use cases with scalable, secure, and reliable APIs.

Finding the right weather data partner can increase your efficiencies and vastly improve your decisions. New applications that use weather data are already solving many industry challenges. What could weather data do for you?