Cloud computing is often associated with entertainment: having all your multimedia in an online database that is accessible and intuitive. However, cloud computing is also a powerful business tool, allowing information management with data volumes and transmission speeds that were impossible just a few decades ago. In the case of weather monitoring systems, cloud computing provides a safe way to backup data from remote sites, often with harsh weather conditions.
The Risk of Data Loss in Weather Monitoring
When you are collecting weather data from a remote site, one of the highest risks is losing the device and all the information it contains. For example, the unit may be lost underwater, in thick vegetation, or due to fauna or vandalism. Since data is important for modern business operations, data loss normally brings an associated monetary loss; for example, a weather-sensitive project may be delayed to give time for new measurements.
Data can also be lost without necessarily losing the physical device. Consider the following risks in project sites:
- Impact: Since the unit is directly exposed to the weather, a strong enough wind can dislodge it from supports and fling it at high speed. The resulting impact can damage the unit beyond repair, including the data storage system.
- Dust or moisture infiltration: Even if the unit is firmly supported, dust and moisture can leak inside and damage sensitive components over time.
A weather monitoring system can protect data better if it has a tough construction and it includes a cloud-based backup system. The enclosure must be suitable for the site conditions expected, which means it must be dust-tight, watertight and corrosion-proof. However, even an armoured device is useless if lost, so it must also provide a way to retrieve data at regular intervals. This is precisely why you cannot use a generic data logger for weather monitoring.
Potential Consequences of Losing Weather Data
In the construction industry, losing weather data for a project site can be even more expensive than losing the monitoring device itself. Contractors are often subject to penalties for missed deadlines, unless they can provide evidence of major issues slowing down the project. Weather data showing unsuitable conditions for construction can spare a contractor from hefty fines.
The simplest way to safeguard data is keeping a backup file in a data center at a safe location, and updating it at regular intervals. In the case of WINDCRANE, the cloud database is updated at 10-minute intervals to minimise data loss risk – even in the worst-case scenario, you will not lose more than 10 minutes’ worth of information. Generic data loggers create backups at much longer intervals, which means you can lose many hours or days of information in an accident.
Data is retrieved automatically through the GSM network, which provides global coverage, and WINDCRANE has a built-in 2G and 3G GSM module. Although newer and faster protocols do exist, 2G and 3G GSM offers much better coverage and compatibility.
How Cloud Computing Saves Money and Time
Normally, if you want data backup for a weather monitoring system, you have to invest in a physical server for your company. Both the hardware and the software are expensive, and the data center must be managed by qualified IT professionals, which adds to your payroll. Also keep in mind that your IT staff members may be offered a position in another company, taking their experience with them – whoever you hire next must be trained on how the platform works.
A weather monitoring solution with built-in cloud computing brings many benefits:
- You can save all the ownership costs of a physical server for data backup, along with the corresponding IT salaries. You also avoid the logistics of handling data physically – for example, having someone drive between sites to gather files with a USB memory.
- You will not “run out of space” because a cloud-based server can be expanded as needed by the user. With a physical server, on the other hand, you have to purchase and add more memory as your data management needs grow.
In a few words, WINDCRANE already invested in the servers and hardware required for cloud-based weather monitoring, while creating a qualified technical team. Cloud computing delivers the benefits of this platform, without the complications of keeping it operational.
Data security is also an important consideration in favor of cloud computing. Providers of cloud services can take advantage of economies of scale to deploy the best data safety measures, such as those used in bank servers. Having the same level of data security in a small stand-alone server can have a prohibitive cost for the user.