IoT is a difficult thing to pin down. Everyone seems to be talking about how this internet of connected everything’s will change the world – from enterprise, software CEOs talking about their favorite connected toothbrush, to industrial organizations talking about how connected jet engines will fundamentally change travel. But the difficulty lies in that many of those examples are kind of hard to get your head around – we can opine about the utility of an internet connected toothbrush, but the vast majority of us won’t be likely to use it. And while connected jet engines sound awesome, they don’t stop that darned airline losing my checked-in bag.

And so it is nice to hear about an IoT story that is delivering results right now. This one is courtesy of Understory, a weather network, and analytics company. Understory analyzes and processes the data it collects from around 500 IoT weather stations that it has deployed across five major metropolitan areas. This data is used to create real-time datasets, views, and actionable information from historical, current, and forecasted weather events.

But having data, and doing something with it are two different things. Which is where this story gets interesting. You see simply delivering weather information to consumers has been done to death – it’s a massively competitive market and the big players have sucked up much of the opportunity already. But what about providing hyper-contextual and hyper-local information via a B2B model to interesting parties?

That’s what Understory is doing – they are focusing on the insurance opportunity and expanding their real-time weather network footprint from the current 500 units to 5000 units by the end of next year. In doing so, their plan is to cover regions responsible for over 50 percent of the average annual storm loss and over 90 percent of all weather-related catastrophes. The company has already worked with the insurance industry to analyze over 200,000 policyholders and 8,000 claims.

Understory’s sensor technology can see under the clouds, offering weather data and analytics that do not exist anywhere else. The value prop to their partners is that through knowing what’s happening on the ground, these insurance providers can fast-track claims for customers, utilities can see how temperature affects the dispersion of energy and farmers can know precise rainfall totals in their fields. Understory’s sensors can detect everything from hail, rainfall to heat index, providing a rich understanding of daily weather events. Commenting on the opportunity here, Alex Kubicek, Understory’s CEO, said that:

The insurance industry has never been able to access such geospatially-specific data on storm-related events. Understory is changing the very nature of how insurance companies conduct business.

According to the company, via their existing deployments, property, and casualty insurance carriers have seen pathways to over $16 million in savings from the hyper-local weather data that Understory offers them. In addition, Understory has launched its on-site claims analysis program, which allows insurance carriers to see how they can find expense savings and indemnity by operationalizing Understory’s data in under 48 hours.

During recent severe weather events, Understory provided weather data previously unavailable to insurers. Seventy stations, taking 50,000 measurements per second, captured granular data during Hurricane Harvey’s historic rainfall in Houston. In a Denver hail storm that caused more than $1.4 billion in damages, Understory captured more data than any other academic, government or research institution.


The insurance industry, traditional one which utilized fairly blunt approaches to how it works, needs to get more granular in terms of the way it calculates premiums and handles claims. Understory’s example, of delivering highly contextualized information, is a good case study for improved insurance outcomes. In the same way that connected automobiles will allow car insurers to offer far more flexible policy arrangements, this is doing similarly when it comes to weather-related factors.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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