Press Release | December 15, 2016

Ligado Networks and George Mason University Partner to Deploy Network that Bolsters Delivery and Access of Public Weather Data

The research and development partnership provides Mason with a cloud-based network to enhance the delivery of critical weather data in real-time and advance higher education efforts in the study of Earth’s atmosphere and climate

RESTON, Va., December 15, 2016 – Ligado Networks and George Mason University will partner to provide the public with real-time access to critical weather and atmospheric data, helping students and scientists better research, track and predict weather.

Prior to this arrangement, certain National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather data was available only to a small group of users at significant expense. The partnership between Ligado and Mason will demonstrate the feasibility of delivering NOAA real-time weather data to more users across the country at a lower cost, using a cloud-based network.

“It’s an honor to collaborate with George Mason University on such an important, cutting-edge project,” said Doug Smith, Ligado Networks’ president and chief executive officer. “The network we’ve developed will give the university unprecedented access to real-time public weather data, making it possible for the school’s weather research programs to better study our atmosphere and develop useful tools that will benefit the broader American public.”

“This is a great opportunity that speaks to our commitment to building strong partnerships,” said Dr. Ángel Cabrera, George Mason University president. “We look forward to the advancements and advantages that this partnership with Ligado will provide for students, faculty and the community at large.”

U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner, of Virginia, also applauded the agreement. “I welcome this exciting partnership between one of Virginia’s world-class universities and an innovative Virginia communications company,” said Sen. Warner. “As the author of the nation’s first open data law, I’m a strong believer in expanding access to valuable federal data by researchers, innovators and the public. This partnership between George Mason University and Ligado Networks will facilitate innovative uses of important weather data.”

George Mason University is Virginia’s largest public research university. Thanks to its pursuit of research of consequence, Mason was named to the elite group of 115 tier-one research institutions as ranked by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

“Extreme weather events have a huge impact on people, including their families, homes and businesses,” said Deborah Crawford, Mason’s vice president for research. “Faster and more accurate climate modeling and weather prediction will help people and organizations – including emergency responders – better prepare for and respond more quickly to weather-related events such as tornadoes, floods and wildfires, saving lives and livelihoods.

“Mason’s climate researchers have increased our understanding of how changes in the oceans and in the atmosphere affect the weather we and others experience,” Crawford added. “Their work is helping communities become more resilient to extreme weather conditions. Our partnership with Ligado assures that the Mason community will continue to develop more accurate climate models and prepare the next generation of climate researchers, including students in Mason’s new bachelor’s program, in atmospheric sciences.”

Under the partnership, Mason and Ligado will compare the delivery of the weather data from existing satellite systems with the new cloud-based content delivery network. This will include measuring the speed and reliability of data delivery to users across the country. The initiative also includes reviewing and improving the accuracy of weather forecasting models and advance detection of meteorological conditions, such as the formations of tornadoes and dense ground fog. Additionally, the new information extraction tools will be made available to the public for free.

“This type of network could also be expanded so schools, libraries and the general public have access to NOAA data, which will go a long way to advancing science, technology, engineering and mathematics education,” Smith said. “It’s hard to imagine all that may be possible by opening up access to this data, and together with Mason, we look forward to exploring those possibilities over the coming years.”

Mason’s College of Science includes the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences (AOES) and the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (COLA). Both AOES and COLA offer research programs, undergraduate and advanced degrees for atmospheric science, ocean and estuarine science and paleontology.

Ligado provides highly dependable and secure communications throughout North America via strategic partnerships with technology and service providers. It is readying plans to deploy an advanced satellite and ground-based network that would further position the U.S. as a leader in wireless technology and infrastructure by delivering unprecedented performance and enabling the emerging 5G and Internet of Things markets.