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Boston Company Wants to Revolutionize Forecasts

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    Boston Company Wants to Revolutionize Forecasts
    NBC Boston

    Imagine a weather forecast so precise that you know exactly when it's going to rain, down to street level.

    It may sound too good to be true, but it's not. It's now a reality, thanks to a brand new Boston start-up.

    "If you can tell, down to the person on a minute by minute basis what the weather condition is, you can do a lot with it," said Shimon Elkabetz, the CEO of ClimaCell.

    The local start-up is looking to revolutionize weather forecasts.

    "For the first time, we're not using only the governmental radars, we're actually bringing a new layer of data that's enabling us to do that hyper local predication," he added.

    That means offering minute-by-minute, street-by-street forecasts; being able to tell you that you'll need an umbrella on Boylston Street, but not on Commonwealth Avenue.

    "This technology was developed over the last 10 years," said Itai Zlotnik, the company's co-founder.

    That exact technology is top secret, but ClimaCell says there's one key: wireless signal strength.

    "We collect all the signals together and then analyze it inside the company," Zlotnik explained.

    They're looking for areas where signals suddenly weaken — a sign of rain or snow.

    With wireless signals almost everywhere people live, this offers a wealth of data in areas previously missed by radar.

    Colored dots on a screen shown in a demonstration make it clear where ClimaCell detects precipitation, often not aligning with weather service radar.

    That traditional radar, updating only every few minutes, can't keep up with the real-time movement of the rain.

    "It basically allow us to be very accurate, very local, and then to create a very accurate weather prediction," Zlotnik said.

    The need for accurate prediction is the inspiration for ClimaCell.

    "We knew that there is a very big problem with weather data. We thought, you know, why not try to solve this problem," said Rei Goffer, another co-founder.

    Goffer served in the Israeli Air Force with Elkabetz. The pair often found flight forecasts unreliable, leaving them in dangerous situations.

    "These are very massive decisions, you know, tens of planes needing to take off and you can’t coordinate that because you don't know what the weather conditions will be," Goffer said.

    Its no surprise, aviation is now a focus for ClimaCell.

    "If you can understand what is happening at every airport around the country on a real time basis, and the short term prediction on a minute by minute basis, you can understand how to operate the entire airline fleet," Elkabetz explained.

    ClimaCell says its data can also help companies like Uber better anticipate weather related demand changes.

    The start-up also sees big value for amusement parks and sporting events.

    Just this spring the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency used ClimaCell to monitor conditions during the Boston Marathon.

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