Closing the weather data gap in LMICs using mobile networks

Innovation

Rainfall observation using Commercial Microwave Links (CMLs)

Partners

GSMA, Dialog Axiata Sri Lanka, MTN Nigeria, Digicel Papua New Guinea, Wageningen University & Research, Royal Dutch Meteorological Institute (KNMI), TU Delft, Hyds, FCDO, DFAT

Reliable ground-level weather observations are key inputs to digital climate resilience services, providing more reliable data than remote sensing sources, however, this data is lacking in low and middle income countries (LMICs). Mobile networks currently provide over 90% population coverage in most LMICs, this presents a significant opportunity for mobile operators to close this weather data gap.

Commercial microwave links (CMLs) in mobile phone networks can be used to measure rainfall at a high resolution and in near real-time. CMLs connect mobile towers and are disrupted by rainfall, causing signal levels to drop –  these variations in signal strength are converted into rainfall intensity

The GSMA brings together mobile operators, research institutes and climate service providers to validate and refine this approach, and develop innovative weather services that strengthen the climate resilience of smallholder farmers.

Impact

Partnerships to utilise CML data for rainfall observation have been established by the GSMA with MTN Nigeria, Dialog Axiata Sri Lanka, and Digicel Papua New Guinea. In Sri Lanka, the longest running project, mobile operator Dialog is already working on utilising CML data in a weather index insurance service and integrating CML-enabled weather alerts into its Govi Mithuru farmer advisory platform.


This “Innovation Story” was produced for #ClimateShot – the agricultural innovation race to save our planet.
Recognizing the urgent need for an innovation-driven transformation of global food systems to overcome the climate challenges they currently face, GSMA AgriTech fully supports CCAFS’ Global Action Agenda for Agricultural Innovation as it addresses those actions critical to achieving this goal.


Resources:

The GSMA report ‘Digital Innovation for Climate-Resilient Agriculture’ outlines how mobile operator assets, including CML data, can enable or improve digital climate resilience services.

This video; ‘Rainfall monitoring through mobile technology in Sri Lanka‘ explains CML data and how to observe rainfall using mobile networks


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