Brad D. Smith Participates in Beyond The Cloud Discussion

On March 17, 2021, Brad D. Smith participated in the West Virginia Public Education Collaborative’s Focus Forward event. The event focused on the National Weather Service’s available data that could benefit innovators and businesses. Focus Forward aims to bring together business, education and government leaders to discuss forward-thinking ideas and how to implement them in West Virginia.

The March virtual event focused on how leveraging cloud data available through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) could help skyrocket innovation and growth in West Virginia, as well as around the world. Previously, data gathered through NOAA has been difficult to leverage due to its size and how it was stored, but through partnerships with cloud providers like Amazon and Microsoft, data is becoming more accessible, which could lead to major breakthroughs for society.

The vast amounts of weather-related data collected could transform the way many companies function—letting air traffic controllers know when to de-ice a plane, alerting railway maintenance if a portion of the track could be affected by a tornado, or telling farmers when to irrigate a certain crop. West Virginia is poised to tap into this industry and be a part of the revolution. The NOAA satellites and supercomputing centers are located in Fairmont, in the I-79 Technology Park. If people in West Virginia are motivated to take advantage of this opportunity, it could create a cycle of growth that will continue to attract people to the area and grow the state’s economy.

Brad discussed how data presents value to businesses and entrepreneurs. By understanding and gaining access to data such as NOAA’s data, businesses have the opportunity to discover new problems—or solutions—at hand. Unlocking these problems and solutions is where Brad sees the opportunity for economic growth in the Mountain State. The growth in the economy, though, will only come by continuing to lean into these new technologies and advancements by the West Virginia communities. Brad reiterated this throughout the discussion, and focused on the importance of educating students from a young age about technology, data and computational science. 

To continue the conversation surrounding NOAA’s Big Data Project, The West Virginia Public Education Collaborative is hosting a second Focus Forward virtual event. Part two will continue the discussion around opportunities surrounding this data, as well as a workshop on design thinking, one of Brad’s common teachings when working with businesses and entrepreneurs.

If you missed the first part of the event, you can check out the full discussion, including presentations by Brad, tech leaders from Amazon and Microsoft, and representatives from the NOAA Big Data team here.