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IBM's new weather system will use your smartphone sensors for better forecasts

The system will also use readings from aircraft to enable more accurate weather forecasts around the globe.

Published onJanuary 9, 2019

IBM GRAF weather forecast (R) compared to legacy systems.
A legacy forecast system (L) compared to IBM’s new system.

There are billions of smartphones in use today which we can leverage for things like traffic reports and distributed computing projects. Now, IBM thinks it can use all these phones to enable better weather forecasts too (h/t: Ubergizmo).

The veteran tech company announced the IBM Global High-Resolution Atmospheric Forecasting System (GRAF) at CES 2019, claiming it’ll deliver “the most accurate local weather forecasts ever seen worldwide.”

More specifically, IBM claims it’ll update every hour and has a nearly 200 percent increase in forecasting resolution (from 12 square kilometers to three square kilometers) around the globe. This level of high-resolution forecasting was previously restricted to the likes of the U.S., Japan, and Europe, the tech company said.

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GRAF is powered by IBM’s POWER9-based supercomputers, but it’s using pressure sensor readings from smartphone barometers around the world to improve forecasts. It’s unclear how the smartphone readings will take place (such as the relevant app), but IBM insists that it’ll only collect the data if people opt-in to share it. Nevertheless, one would assume these readings would be collected via The Weather Channel app.

Additionally, GRAF will make use of data from aircraft in order to deliver better results. IBM reckons aircraft and smartphone data will be a boon in regions without dedicated weather equipment.

Predictions will be made available globally later in 2019, but IBM says individuals will also be able to gain access to the forecasts via The Weather Channel app,, the Weather Underground app, or

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