“Machine learning can process so much so quickly,” says Patti. “It finds all kinds of correlations we didn’t see before. It can explain things like why it’s so windy in a very specific location. We’re seeing a revolution in meteorology.”
AccuWeather’s data scientists can also use the cloud-based data lake and Azure tools for exploratory projects, without added cost.
Small Businesses Can Move Fast with the Cloud
According to Chida Chidambaram, an expert in AI, machine learning and cloud at Deloitte, these opportunities to experiment can be a significant advantage for smaller companies looking to go to market rapidly.
“The cloud is very accessible,” says Chidambaram. “All you need is a credit card. The big providers have tools for companies to get set up quickly.”
The cloud’s low barrier to entry helps to explain its growing popularity with small and midsized businesses. According to the “2021 State of the Cloud Report” by Flexera, 69 percent of SMB workloads and 67 percent of all data will reside on a public cloud platform within a year.
For small and midsized businesses, just as important as the cloud’s scalability is the access it provides to sophisticated services, powered by AI and machine learning, that allow them to analyze and operationalize data in ways that have traditionally been possible only for enterprises. As Patti puts it, “the business value should outweigh the investment by about five times.”
From the Cloud To the Sea
Global Fishing Watch, a nonprofit that advances ocean governance, couldn’t meet its mission without the cloud. The Washington, D.C.-based organization uses cutting-edge technology to learn more about human activity at sea and its impact on the global seafood industry.
“We had huge data sets, including GPS tracking information for more than 300,000 vessels,” says Paul Woods, co-founder of and chief innovation officer for the nonprofit. “We knew we would need to use machine learning to make analyzing that data into a scalable process that we would be able to distribute to the world for free.”
Using Google Cloud Platform’s BigQuery analytics platform, along with Earth Engine, a tool that provides geospatial data from a wide range of sources, Global Fishing Watch allows university researchers to access data and experiment with it in the cloud.
Machine learning is necessary for data analysis because data can often be messy. For example, one data source the organization uses is from a well-established radio protocol for vessels to communicate with one another called the Automated Identification System.
“AIS transmissions themselves are not always reliable indicators,” Woods says. “For example, fishing vessels are associated with a specific AIS code, but sometimes a boat will use a different code. What we’ve done is train the machine learning models to recognize the typical pattern of a fishing vessel. We can tell based on the way it moves whether it’s dragging trawl nets or using a long line with hooks. The models can also detect when a vessel is having an encounter at sea, potentially transferring catch to another boat, or if it has disabled its AIS device. Putting all the information together helps us detect and report unregulated, unreported fishing.”