Predictive Weather Platform

The Beginnings

It started with a fire prevention app.

We started working with SDG&E in 2013 on a web application that would help them quantify risks of fires during Santa Ana windstorms. Dubbed the Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index, we worked with representatives from SDG&E, the U.S. Forest Service, and UCLA to design and build the application. The tool benefits fire agencies by allowing them to better anticipate necessary resources, as well as when and where the greatest challenges might occur.

MJD provided expertise in the user experience, design, and build of the app. The build included development of a new API that pulls fire and weather data from multiple sources, consolidates them into a single stream, and then populates the app with pertinent information and graphics.

The Project Grows

The SDG&E Weather Enterprise Platform

On the heels of the overwhelmingly positive reception to the Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index, SDG&E contracted MJD to expand the horizons of the project. The group collectively saw an opportunity to use the core ideas of the fire prevention app, but on weather in general. The scope of the project expanded into a enterprise platform, integrating more than 150 weather data sources. This now gives SDG&E an incredibly robust weather forecasting system. This new system allows SDG&E to make intelligent decisions on resourcing particular parts of their service area during significant weather events like storms, heat waves, and high winds. Bringing in such a variety of data required a redesigned user interface. The interface would be viewed on screens as small as a smartphone, to tablets, desktop computers,  large screen displays and projected onto SDG&E’s control center in 80 foot high resolution. This was easily the largest range for a responsive application that we had taken on, and it was a great success. There’s nothing like seeing your work a few stories high on a wall.

The amount of data being written into the API based JSON file, along with the requirement to show different sets of data each day, gave us a unique opportunity to create a custom content management system. The data sources feed twenty seven different weather widgets, of which five are chosen on any given day depending on expected weather. We built an extremely easy to use drag and drop system to choose the day’s widgets. We also built a custom interface for SDG&E’s extremely talented weather team to massage the data coming into the system. For instance, if reports were saying it would be 78º, but they knew it would be significantly warmer, they can edit any of the incoming data to their needs. This allows a great amount of precision in their reporting.

Results

  • Successful integration of hundreds of weather, fire and emergency API data endpoints into a single system and interface
  • Enhanced data visualizations help SDG&E personnel quickly ascertain potential risks and take the appropriate action
  • These modern software solutions have already revolutionized the organization, bringing mobile application solutions to the forefront