Obama Administration, Tech Companies Hope to Bring Environmental Data to the Cloud

The Obama administration is teaming up with a slew of tech giants in an effort to bring the government's vast collection of environmental information to the cloud.

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The Obama administration is teaming up with a slew of tech giants in an effort to bring the government's vast collection of environmental information to the cloud.

Under agreements struck with Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft and the Open Cloud Consortium, data alliances anchored by each of those partners will research methods to provide easy public access to data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The NOAA takes in more than 20 terabytes of data every day through sources ranging from sea-borne buoys to weather satellites.

The U.S. Commerce Department, however, said only a fraction of that information is publicly accessible and that demand for those resources is rising. Placing NOAA data on the cloud, the agency said, would provide a better understanding of the planet, improve extreme event preparation and response and enable businesses and organizations to develop innovative products and services.

"Imagine if the airline industry could work with the private weather enterprise to predict the exact coordinates of where a flight would encounter turbulence," Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said at an American Meteorological Society event Tuesday. "Airline companies could then make better decisions on how to route airplanes and achieve real economic savings."

Overall, Commerce officials said open data could add more than $3 trillion to the global economy in the energy, education, transportation, health care, finance and consumer product sectors.

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