Business & Finance
08:35 PM
Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl

Editor's Note: Agency Lands In Eye Of The Storm

As hurricanes swirl in the Caribbean and make their way toward the United States, weather tracking and forecasting become more critical than ever, especially for those in the southern and eastern parts of the country. Technology continues to improve forecasting for hurricanes and other dangerous weather, making it possible for people and businesses to set contingency plans in motion.

But this week we're writing about stormy weather of a different kind--something that has created a lively debate over how taxpayer-funded data is distributed and that could impact some companies' business models in ways that make some folks quite angry. At the heart of the issue is a decision late last year that made it possible for the National Weather Service, the government agency that's the primary collector of weather data, to make its information more readily available to individuals or organizations. Commercial weather-information providers are peeved, arguing that the agency is duplicating products and services already available to the public through organizations like the Weather Channel.

Smaller weather companies are crying foul because they claim the legislation, in spelling out how the Weather Service makes its data available to large commercial providers (the Weather Channel, AccuWeather), might force the small guys to pay the larger guys for data. Weather Service employees aren't happy with the legislation either, arguing that it would prohibit the agency from providing services to the public if private companies can provide them for a fee.

Who knew weather data could be so competitive and political? Should government steer away from competing with the private sector? Should the data be available for free to anyone who wants it? Should the private sector profit from publicly available data? Perhaps Raymond Ban, executive VP at the Weather Channel, said it best: "As the private sector has continued to grow and evolve, all of a sudden the boundaries that seemed to be very comfortable and very well-suited 50 years ago aren't working anymore."

Seems there's an industry transformation in the forecast.

Stephanie Stahl,

To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Stephanie Stahl's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about Stephanie Stahl, please visit her page on the Listening Post.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Top IT Trends to Watch in Financial Services
IT pros at banks, investment houses, insurance companies, and other financial services organizations are focused on a range of issues, from peer-to-peer lending to cybersecurity to performance, agility, and compliance. It all matters.
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on for the week of October 9, 2016. We'll be talking with the editors and correspondents who brought you the top stories of the week to get the "story behind the story."
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll