Why A Subscription Service Is The New Model For Severe Weather Protection

Why A Subscription Service Is The New Model For Severe Weather ProtectionSevere weather conditions do not discriminate when it comes to threatening organizations. Lightning, hurricanes, blizzards, flooding, and wildfire are just a few of the major threats Mother Nature poses to governments and businesses around the world each day. The best way to mitigate these risks is with a subscription-based severe weather protection plan.

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The State of Weather Safety Services

The Old Way of Doing ThingsBright red thumbs down icon

Back in the 1970s, severe weather safety became a focus with technology like lightning prediction sensors. These now-outdated pieces of equipment pick up electrostatic discharges in the atmosphere to guess when lightning strikes are occurring. They are essentially a single point of failure for severe weather detection. If that one sensor goes down, you’ll no longer have the information you need to make an operational decision.

The old way of doing things also includes large, one-off, upfront purchases. The customer is forced to take on a higher financial risk since they are locked-in to a solution long-term. Worst of all, these “safety” solution providers have no incentive to make sure the technology continues to work as advertised since they already have your money.

The New Way: Subscription-Oriented

Dark blue thumbs up iconFast-forward to the 21st century, and there are plenty of more advanced and reliable solutions on the market. Instead of lightning prediction, the new best practice is relying on lightning detection from a network of sensors. Lightning detection is different because these sensors pick up real lightning strikes – not just electrostatic potential. The sensors are much less temperamental than old prediction-based systems and offer far fewer false and missed alarms.

From a cost perspective it seems like every time you turn around, more and more services become subscription-based. Cable is a great example. Hardware is ultimately enabling the service you are truly paying for – the 100+ channels of 24/7 programming. You pay a subscription fee for both the rental of the boxes, and for the content you subscribe to.

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Benefits of Subscription-Based Severe Weather Safety Services  

Sferic Maps on a tablet showing the radar

The newest capabilities of weather protection tools and services available in one integrated package make the solutions a no-brainer for anyone looking for safety and protection from severe weather situations.

Many businesses spend a significant amount of money on property & casualty insurance to protect them from major losses, but rarely, if ever, use the insurance. Weather protection services are nearly guaranteed to be used on a daily or weekly basis, and are a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of insurance premiums.

There are several key benefits to consider when evaluating the move to a professional weather protection service:


Cost Savings

Subscription packages save organizations money because they often bundle many different services at a discounted rate. By paying on a yearly basis, you cut the upfront cost of severe weather alerting tools by over 60% in many cases. By relieving this cost, you have more resources to invest on other concerns. The fact is, if a weather-related accident happens on your property or damages your facilities, you could be looking at a much larger bill. That’s where being prepared with a severe weather safety package can really save you the big bucks.

Additionally, these subscriptions generally handle maintenance of any weather sensors you have onsite, so you don’t need to worry about paying incremental fees should your hardware need maintenance or updates.he same can be said for team practices, outdoor events, and recreational activities.

Access To New Technology & Features

It’s a competitive world out there, and you want to make sure you are able to take advantage of the best solution to fit your needs. If you lock into a oneoff solution, you will have a tough time getting the budget to invest in a different solution and will need to explain why the large initial investment hasn’t panned out.

When you use a subscription, you put a lot of pressure on the technology provider to make sure their solution remains the best and they continue to add new capabilities to the product. They know if they don’t, you can easily take your business to the next competitor. This way, either you get the best technology from your current vendor, or have the flexibility to switch to one who does.

Peace of Mind 

Meteorologist on call at Earth Networks HQ

Similar to having the best technology and products, a major benefit of a subscription service is having a turnkey solution with attentive customer service so you don’t need to worry about being a technology expert or dedicating staff time to making sure the system works.

Since the only way you’ll decide to renew a service is if it is providing value to you, the vendor has a vested interest in making sure you get trained properly, the system is working, and that you are configured to get the most out of the solution.

Building A Trusting Relationship

By investing a subscription service, you are cultivating a long-lasting collaborative partnership with your weather service provider. As your service provider begins to understand your way of managing operations, it can become a trusted resource to help you navigate weather events impacting your specific organization. They can be aware of issues they know are important to you and provide you with more lead time to implement your risk mitigation plan.


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Key Components of a Professional Weather Subscription Service 

Earlier, we talked about the importance of using the latest technology in lightning detection (rather than lightning prediction) within a subscription model. There are a few other safety features that you will find in a subscription-oriented severe weather safety solution, that are key to helping you protect your operations:


Configurable, Real-Time Alerts

Critical weather alerts displayed on the Sferic Connect mobile applicationThe main reason most organizations look for a weather protection service is to help them make important operational decisions as quick as possible. Some organizations rely on people to look up information on multiple websites or apps, and then determine if an activity should be halted or people should seek shelter. With today’s advanced analytic capabilities, these organizations are wasting valuable time making these decisions manually.

Weather protection services now offer automated, technology-driven alerts that are configurable by an end user based on the needs of their organization. If they only worry about lightning and wind in a 6-mile radius of their location, then an alert can be triggered when only that specific situation occurs. These alerts can be delivered via many channels as well, such as email, text message, mobile app, or in-app notifications. The power is put into the hands of the user.

Expansive Weather Sensing Network

Connected points on a grid symbolizing Earth Networks' expansive weather and lightning networks

Your safety solutions are only as good as the network that powers them. To maximize the accuracy of your configured severe weather alerts, your solution needs to fetch weather data from a reliable place.

The first thing you want to find out about the weather intelligence is where the data is coming from. Plenty of weather services include weather data from the nearest airport station and government buildings. But we all know that weather conditions can vary greatly just a mile away depending on things like elevation, proximity to the coast, and other things. If your location is anything but right next door to one of these areas, you need more accurate weather data.

That’s where hyperlocal networks come in. Our network, for example, has thousands of unique weather stations located in local communities where people live and work. 


This type of network gives business decision-makers a more relevant picture of weather conditions expected in their area rather than general information sourced for the purposes of consumers planning their weekend.

Furthermore, a weather sensor network is redundant and purpose-built to meet the harsh conditions of many operational environments, leading to high uptime standards. This is not a backyard weather enthusiast’s science project. And since the data is hosted in the cloud, the alerts and weather intelligence are accessible by everyone in the organization. This is not the case with solutions that use a physical handheld weather device.

This real-time network-based data is high grade information. There is a real cost to providing this level of commercial service. Like many other things, you get what you pay for.


Real-Time Lightning Networks

animated lightning in a storm cloud

There’s also the issue of a lightning network. Yes, weather and lightning networks are two different things. As we discussed before, a lightning detection network is much more reliable than a stand-alone lightning prediction tool. You should also look for total lightning detection. A lot of lightning detection systems on the market today only detect cloud-to-ground lightning strikes.

But those are the strikes that kill people! Are there any other strikes? Why should we care?

Great questions. It turns out that cloud-to-ground strikes – the type that do the most damage – only make up roughly 20% of all lightning strikes. Most lightning discharges are in-cloud strikes. These are strikes that hop from cloud-to-cloud and never contact the ground.

They are important to monitor because they are often a precursor to other forms of severe weather, notably ground-to-cloud lightning strikes and hail storms. They can help alert organizations to cloud-to-ground danger, flooding, high winds, and more. Total lightning is the term given to the combination of in-cloud lightning strikes and cloud-to-ground lightning strikes. Make sure your solution has it!

Hyperlocal Forecasts, Current Conditions, & Historical Information

Screenshot of the Earth Networks Online weather center, part of the subscription-based severe weather protection package, Sferic ProtectThe benefits of a redundant, hyperlocal network lie in the intelligence it provides to help you make critical, time-sensitive decisions. In a subscription offering, the hyperlocal sensors near your location will allow you to plan ahead with more accurate forecasts, keep a real-time pulse on current conditions, and look back on past events with access to a library of historical information from your location.

Access to the past, current, and future datasets make for the most optimal intelligence to make decisions to protect people and assets, as well as learn from the past to improve decision-making over time.


Storm Tracking Visualization

Another thing you’re going to need is a way to visualize the changing weather conditions. Online weather maps and other visualization tools are perfect for understanding what weather conditions are in your area. The most advanced maps have both real-time weather conditions, daily lows and highs, as well as forecasts. You’ll want a map that includes layers like:

  • Real-time weather observations
  • Forecasts for important weather conditions
  • National Weather Service warnings
  • Advanced lightning data and warnings
  • Snow probability and accumulation forecasts


Storm tracking for an airport, public park, and golf course on Sferic Maps

Gone are the days when weather visualization meant just seeing current conditions or forecasts on a map. With today’s technology, there are many ways you can customize your view of the weather to best mitigate weather-related risks, like maps that allow you to add your own assets, data points, and customized layers.

Let’s say you’re a utility company with a large grid of infrastructure or a manufacturing organization with multiple plants. You can add your grid or your locations in as a customized layer, so you can see them along with weather data in real time. This way, you know exactly what conditions are like in all operational areas.

Meteorological Services

Meteorologist looking at the weather on computer screens, on the phone with a client for meteorological services The next feature that you should keep on your checklist is access to meteorological experts. A major part of the value of subscription services is that it requires the vendor to be actively involved in making sure you are successful so you continue to use the service. Here is where access to a team of meteorologists can be a big advantage.

Having a severe weather expert on your side when severe weather threatens your operations is key to increasing your peace of mind and making the right weather-related decision. It can be intimidating to be in charge of making weather-based decisions where a wrong move can mean human injuries or costly damages. An expert meteorologist can guide you through the decision. This type of support is critical when decision-makers have pressure from multiple angles.

Let’s say you have an outdoor event coming up but your forecast says there’s a 50% chance of thunderstorms. You look at your online weather map, but the scattered storms offer no idea as to where they are headed. The best thing you can do is call a meteorologist who is an expert in this field. They’ll guide you through the risk mitigation and ensure you make the best weather-related decision for your event. It’s a lot easier to make decisions in times of high pressure when you have an expert on your team.


A lot of times what we see with organizations that rely on one-and-done providers is that they have problems getting a hold of their customer service team. A lot of times, companies that just sell alerting systems outsource their customer service team or don’t even have one in place.

They figure once you’ve purchased their product they can move on. That means even if your hardware breaks, these companies oftentimes don’t care. They don’t have anyone to fix your tools and won’t hire any. The problem is they are no longer incentivised to keep your system running after the one-time purchase and potentially short-lived warranty period. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen golf courses, schools, and parks stuck with hardware that just doesn’t work anymore and customer service representatives that just don’t exist.

An Earth Networks field technician installing an Earth Networks weather stationThat’s not the case with subscription-based solution providers. Since you sign a contract for years to come, there is a high level of accountability that your provider must live up to. It’s great to work with a company that has maintenance and meteorological staff that are ready to answer your questions no matter what time of day it is or how many months have passed since install. Safety is all about preparedness and accountability.

It’s important to look for maintenance packages that are fulfilled by technicians that work solely for your provider. That way, you know they are dedicated to what they do. They know the product inside-out. It’s also great to look for maintenance teams that like to stay in touch after install. Even with intuitive weather equipment, you are always going to have some questions.

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Our Turnkey Subscription-Based Solutionthumbs up icon

When you add up all the features, you get total protection from severe weather. An all-in-one subscription safety package is the safest route for organizations and governments looking to mitigate their weather-related risks.

Sferic Protect is the latest severe weather safety solution offered by Earth Networks. This turnkey subscription service is the latest and most reliable way to safeguard your operations, finances, and personnel from severe weather for years to come. Sferic Protect includes the key features in this guide such as coverage from our proprietary lightning detection network and 24/7 access meteorological experts, as well as several other benefits, including real-time storm tracking software, mobile and outdoor audible alerts, localized forecasting, and weather portals for public display at your location.

Are you ready to modernize your weather protection and get the peace of mind having the best technology and tools to make your weather-related decisions? 


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