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CES 2019: IBM taps crowd-sourced data streams to better predict the weather

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CES 2019: IBM taps crowd-sourced data streams to better predict the weather

International Business Machines Corp. is looking to tap underutilized bits of data termed the world's "greatest natural resource" by company CEO Ginni Rometty — to better predict the weather, among other applications.

At technology trade show CES, IBM showcased how it intends to incorporate crowd-sourced atmospheric data from consumer mobile devices, airplanes and other weather-sensitive stations and sensors. By incorporating this type of data with weather modeling technology, the company said it will be able to offer more accurate local forecasts globally, including in less-developed countries.

This type of so-called "deep data," or bits of information harvested from various streams of data created by consumers and companies, will feed into IBM's latest supercomputers to begin providing forecasts later this year.

The move is not without controversy. IBM subsidiary The Weather Co. already faces a lawsuit in Los Angeles County regarding allegations that the company, which operates The Weather Channel app, improperly gathered and shared some data from its users. The Weather Co. has denied the allegation. In announcing the new weather forecasting service Jan. 8, the IBM subsidiary said it will ensure that its service "conforms to the relevant operating system terms of use."

Speaking at CES, IBM CEO Rometty estimated that of the 2.5 trillion terabytes of data being produced in the world, only about 1% is being used and applied.

Rometty's talk culminated with the unveiling of IBM Q System One, a new supercomputer intended to crack open quantum computing and thus greatly improve computer processing power. IBM is partnering with over 42 institutions to apply the Q System One to various research projects.

Additional coverage from CES 2019:

CES 2019: Intel unveils new AI, 5G support processors

CES 2019: Samsung teases 5G phone, touts leadership in the burgeoning technology

CES 2019: LG teases 5G phone, rollable TV