Weather And Business: Insights And Ideas For Weathering The Storms

“How about this weather we’re having?” “Can you believe how cold it is?” “The weather made my commute just brutal today!” Weather dominates small talk in the United States, and there has been a lot of research done on how weather influences behavior and emotions. But, weather also has strong financial impact; it is estimated that nearly 20% of the U.S. economy is directly affected by the weather, and it impacts the profitability and revenues of many industries, including agriculture, energy, events, construction, travel and others. In a 1998 testimony to Congress, former commerce secretary William Daley stated, “Weather is not just an environmental issue, it is a major economic factor. At least $1 trillion of our economy is weather-sensitive.”

This regular column will focus on business and its relationship with weather. Our economy is dependent on weather, and increased weather volatility has forced businesses to be more proactive in including weather insights into operational planning.  As weather-forecasting technology continues to improve, businesses are finding it easier to be more proactive in making decisions related to weather.

Of the more than 10,000 practicing meteorologists in the U.S., there is strong representation in the private sector. A meteorologist may be found in a variety of positions, ranging from weather forecasting duties, to non-forecasting roles like sales, marketing and business analytics. The job outlook for meteorologists is estimated to grow by 12%, which is almost 40 percent faster than the national average.

Public safety is a very visible example of weather forecasting for business. But there are many other ways weather plays a role in business. For some companies, it’s about risk management. For retailers, meteorologists help develop strategies that address how weather impacts purchasing trends. Meteorologists can help with business planning and developing strategies for expansion geographies. The impact of weather on business is real, and as forecasting and other technology continues to evolve, the weather-based decision making within business will also evolve.

Top of mind for so many folks right now is winter and safety, particularly as yet another storm rolls into the northeast. Severe weather will impact flights, road traffic, agriculture, the delivery of energy and the general safety of the public. When thinking about the current winter conditions and the impact on traffic and road conditions, it’s expected the plows will keep the roads clear, but there’s a lot of planning needed, not only to effectively keep the roads clear, but to also effectively manage budgets. In Minnesota for example, Anoka County is responsible for keeping 1,100 lane miles of roads clear with the work of 40 full-time, and 20 on-call, maintenance workers. These crews rely on the accuracy of each weather forecast and a big benefit of leveraging those forecasts is the effective use of budgets. Anoka County weather forecasts have specific pavement forecasts, which help the team schedule crews appropriately. The county is required to give night crews a 24-hour notice, and those crews are paid a premium rate for working after hours. Having an accurate forecast helps the department avoid scheduling workers for night shifts unless it’s necessary, ultimately protecting the bottom line.

Pavement forecasts also help the department use other resources efficiently. When freezing rain is predicted, it uses this information to help determine the optimal time to salt the roads, in turn, avoiding unnecessary applications. The department also knows the best time to pretreat roads, allowing it to avoid sending out a second shift which increases safety for everyone on the road. As this story from Anoka County, Minnesota, shows, there are real economic implications to everyday weather events.

[“source=forbes”]

Maruti Suzuki’s Electric Wagon R Prototype Spotted Testing

Maruti Suzuki India is currently testing 50 prototype electric vehicles across India View Photos

Maruti Suzuki India is currently testing 50 prototype electric vehicles across India

Maruti Suzuki India is currently testing its electric cars in India, and that is in no way a secret. In fact, the company openly announced and flagged-off its electric vehicle fleet for on-road testing in India this October, and we have now come across spy photos of one of these test mules. The car, of course, is in no way camouflaged, in fact, on the contrary, it comes with ‘Electric Vehicle’ printed all around it with graphics and decals to go with the theme. Maruti’s electric vehicle that is on the test is based on the new-gen Wagon R, which was unveiled early this year, and the launch of the production model is slated for some time in 2020.

[“source-ndtv”]

NASA’s InSight Spacecraft Lands Safely on Mars

NASA's InSight Spacecraft Lands Safely on Mars

For the eighth time ever, humanity has achieved one of the toughest tasks in the solar system: landing a spacecraft on Mars.

The InSight lander, operated by NASA and built by scientists in the United States, France and Germany, touched down in the vast, red expanse of Mars’ Elysium Planitia just before 3pm Eastern Monday

There it will operate for the next two Earth years, deploying a seismometer, a heat sensor and radio antenna to probe the Red Planet’s interior. Scientists hope that InSight will uncover signs of tectonic activity and clues about the planet’s past. Those findings could illuminate how Mars became the desolate desert world we see today.

Mission control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, erupted in laughter, applause, hugs and tears as soon as the lander touched down.

“That was awesome,” one woman said, wiping her eyes and clasping her colleague’s hand. A few minutes later, a splotchy red and brown image appeared on the control room’s main screen – InSight’s first photograph from its new home.

It was NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine’s first landing as head of the agency.

“This was an amazing, amazing day,” he said at a news conference Monday afternoon. “To be in the room when the data stops and to know how quiet it gets … and then once the data comes back, the elation.”

Principal investigator Bruce Banerdt began his career as an intern at JPL on the Viking mission, the first successful Mars landing. Seeing the initial grainy image from InSight felt like “coming full circle,” he said. It was an early glimpse at a place on the brink of being explored.

Through the debris covering its camera’s dust cover, InSight captured a small rock (not expected to cause any problems for the science) and the edge of its own foot. Off in the distance, Mars’ horizon looms.

“This thing has a lot more to do,” said entry, descent and landing systems engineer Rob Grover. “But just getting to the surface of Mars is no mean feat.”

The interminable stretch from the moment a spacecraft hits the Martian atmosphere to the second it touches down on the Red Planet’s rusty surface is what scientists call “the seven minutes of terror.”

More than half of all missions don’t make it safely to the surface. Because it takes more than seven minutes for light signals to travel 100 million miles to Earth, scientists have no control over the process. All they can do is program the spacecraft with their best technology and wait.

“Every milestone is something that happened 8 minutes ago,” Bridenstine said. “It’s already history.”

The tension was palpable Monday morning in the control room at JPL, where InSight was built and will be operated. At watch parties around the globe – NASA’s headquarters in Washington, the Nasdaq tower in Times Square, the grand hall of the Museum of Sciences and Industry in Paris, a public library in Haines, Alaska, – legs jiggled and fingers were crossed as minutes ticked toward the beginning of entry, descent and landing.

At about 11:47am, engineers received a signal indicating that InSight had entered the Martian atmosphere. The spacecraft plummeted to the planet’s surface at a pace of 12,300 mph. Within two minutes, the friction roasted InSight’s heat shield to a blistering 2,700 degrees.

Grover released a deep breath: “That’s hot.”

In another two minutes, a supersonic parachute deployed to help slow down the spacecraft. Radar was powered on.

From there, the most critical descent checklist unfolded at a rapid clip: 15 seconds to separate the heat shield. Ten seconds to deploy the legs. Activate the radar. Jettison the back shell. Fire the retrorockets. Orient for landing.

One of the engineers leaned toward her computer, hands clasped in front of her face, elbows on her desk.

“400 meters,” came a voice over the radio at mission control. “300 meters. 80 meters. 30 meters. Constant velocity.”

Engineer Kris Bruvold’s eyes widened. His mouth opened in an “o.” He bounced in his seat.

“Touchdown confirmed.”

Bruvold grinned and threw his hands in the air. Others leaped from their chairs.

Grover let out a relieved chuckle: “Wow, this never gets old.”

Finally, at 12:01 p.m., scientists heard a tiny X-band radio beep – a signal that InSight is active and functioning on the Red Planet.

“Flawless,” Grover said. “Flawless. This is what we really hoped and imagined in our minds eye.

Vice President Mike Pence was among the anxious watchers, Bridenstine said; he called the administrator to congratulate NASA minutes after InSight’s successful landing.

The mission’s objective is to determine what Mars is made of and how it has changed since it formed more than 4 billion years ago. The results could help solve the mystery of how the Red Planet became the dry, desolate world we know it as today.

Early in its history, Mars may have looked a lot like Earth. Magnetization in ancient rocks suggest it had a global magnetic field like that of Earth, powered by a churning mantle and metallic core. The field would have protected the planet from radiation, allowing it to hold on to an atmosphere much thicker than the one that exists now. This, in turn, likely enabled liquid water to pool on Mars’s surface. Images from satellites reveal the outlines of long-gone lakes, deltas and river-carved canyons.

But the last 3 billion years have been a slow-motion disaster for the Red Planet. The dynamo died, the magnetic field faltered, the water evaporated and more than half of the atmosphere was stripped away by solar winds. The InSight mission was designed to find out why.

There is no orbiting spacecraft in the right position around Mars to relay real time information about InSight’s entry descent and landing back to Earth. But as InSight makes its precarious descent, NASA hoped to learn about its status via the MarCo satellites – tiny twin experimental spacecraft known as CubeSats that accompanied the lander on its flight to Mars. Each has solar arrays, a color camera and an antenna for relaying communications from the Martian surface back to Earth.

About 10 minutes before landing, the control room at JPL erupted in applause – both MarCo satellites were working.

“That means the team now can watch the data flowing onto their screens,” said Grover.

Without MarCo, NASA would have had to wait several hours for the details of InSight’s fate. Their success during this mission may provide “a possible model for a new kind of interplanetary communications relay,” systems engineer Anne Marinan said in a NASA news release last week.

The two tiny spacecraft will continue in their sun-centered orbit, and the MarCo team is discussing with NASA options for further projects for the mission.

NASA should know whether the lander’s solar arrays have deployed by Monday evening, thanks to recordings from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The agency also will get its first clear images of the spacecraft’s landing site – a vast, flat, almost featureless plain near the equator.

“I’m incredibly happy to be in a very safe and boring landing location,” said project manager Tom Hoffman.

Unlike Opportunity and Curiosity, the rovers that trundle across Mars in search of interesting rocks, InSight is designed to sit and listen. Using its dome-shaped seismic sensor, scientists hope to detect tiny tremors associated with meteorite impacts, dust stormperhaps s and “marsquakes” generated by the cooling of the planet’s interior. As seismic waves ripple through, they will be distorted by changes in the materials they encounter – plumes of molten rock or reservoirs of liquid water – revealing what’s under the planet’s surface.

InSight’s seismometer is so sensitive it can detect tremors smaller than a hydrogen atom. But it also must be robust enough to survive the perilous process of landing. Nothing like it has been deployed on any planet, even Earth.

Designing this instrument, said principal investigator Philippe Lognonné, “was not only a technical adventure, but a human adventure.”

InSight also has a drill capable of burrowing 16 feet – deeper than any Mars instrument. From there, it can take Mars’s temperature to determine how much heat is still flowing out of the body of the planet. Meanwhile, two antennae will precisely track the lander’s location to determine how much Mars wobbles as it orbits the sun.

It will take two to three months for InSight to start conducting science, explained Elizabeth Barrett, science system engineer for the mission.

This is the first time NASA has used a robotic arm to place instruments on the surface of Mars, and the agency wants to be careful. There is no option to send a technician in for repairs if something goes wrong.

“I liken it to playing that claw game at a fairground, but with a very very valuable prize … and you’re doing blindfolded and remotely from 300 million miles away,” Barret said.

But the insights eventually gleaned from InSight won’t only add to what we know about Mars; they could provide clues to things that happened on Earth billions of years ago. Most records of Earth’s early history have been lost to the inexorable churn of plate tectonics, explained Suzanne Smrekar, the mission’s deputy principal investigator.

“Mars gives us an opportunity to see the materials, the structure, the chemical reactions that are close to what we see in the interior of Earth, but it’s preserved,” she said. “It gives us a chance to go back in time.”

Bridenstine said Monday that information from InSight may guide a potential crewed mission to Mars by providing information about Mars’ water, the risk of asteroid impacts, and resources that could potentially be utilized by human explorers.

“The more we learn, the more we’re able to achieve,” he said.

[“source=ndtv”]

Three Ways To Understand And Apply Social Media Insights To Your Business

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The internet has impacted the way most, if not all, industries have evolved. Keeping up with industry trends and available platforms is a job in and of itself. In particular, social media is shaping the way many companies engage with customers and drive sales.

In the education industry, the internet has revolutionized the way people learn and how they interact with their peers. Based on my experience working with social media influencers to engage students, I’d like to share three tips for entrepreneurs in any industry.

Learn how your target audience is using social media.

You can never stay hot for too long in the world of social media. One minute Snapchat is the app of the hour, the next it’s Instagram, and the cycle continues. Social media has secured credibility in recent years as a trusted source of information not only for news but also as a platform for consumers to engage with companies and exchange information.

My company’s target audience is students, and we have found that students today use social media in ways that are foreign to generations that did not grow up in the digital age. For example, “study with me” videos have become a popular internet sensation among youth. My company decided to capitalize on this opportunity by partnering with YouTube influencers to learn how students are using YouTube to study; we then applied that information to our platform to better help our users succeed academically.

Understanding how your target audience is using and benefiting from social media is critical to success. This applies to any business. Many companies are under the impression that all there is to social media is a simple press of a button to post content, but that’s not where the value lies. Building your presence is important, but understanding why you have that presence will help you properly utilize your channels and benefit in multiple ways.

To do so, connect with your target audience and customers. Create surveys, send personal emails or even make phone calls to understand how your customers are using social media and in what ways your business can have a valuable impact. Get a deeper understanding of your audience behavior and which channels you should focus on.

[“source=forbes]