Top Indian private weather forecaster, Skymet Weather, has launched a digital platform where public members such as students, researchers, businesses, and farmers can source free data to improve their decision-making. The platform, known as SkAlgeo, will provide the forecaster’s 10- year geospatial proprietary farm-level data repository at no cost.
Farmers can use this tool to predict possible risks to be better prepared, which will enhance their yields. Through satellite imagery, farmers can access weather patterns and moisture content data through Greenness Index, Standard Precipitation Index, and Crop health Index collected every fortnight. This information will open a window of opportunity for the agribusiness sector and the banking and insurance industry.
“The idea is to throw it open to the public and see what all use cases can be developed. We have tried to expose the data so that the people who do not have that compute power or resources can develop software on top of it,” said Vivek Singh, Chief executive officer of Skymet. “There can be any number of usages for this data. It’s like ‘uberisation.’ Let people come on the platform, explore and find different use cases for it and cash it on the market,” added Singh.
Agribusiness and Indian food businessman Hemendra Mathur praised this development, saying it will lay the foundation for more agribusiness and entrepreneurial applications. “If you look at the satellite imagery, a lot of effort goes into building, collating, authenticating, and validating datasets. That is almost seventy percent of the work done for developing an application. This will help in the creation of more apps. Once you have the foundational infrastructure, you can build multiple applications that can analyze data,” said Mathur.
According to Mathur, datasets have been used by startups to create applications for geo-tagging and monitoring crop information. “I am seeing more and more startups doing this open innovation. It is an interesting precedent,” added Mathur.
This platform will help farmers preserve their land and farm use information on irrigation programs, mortgages, and land ownership that can be used by funding institutions when borrowing loans.
Information gathered by indexes such as crop health index and soil moisture index can inform insurance companies to develop customized farming policies and programs. It also “eliminates the burden of costly claim verifications on the ground, thus enabling faster, better and accurate payouts to the insured.”
Financial institutions have started using the wealth of data from Skymet to create digital lending applications. “Skymet is using remote sensing, geo-tagging/fencing, and overlaying cadastral maps over land records which help in land and crop identification, crop acreage, and yield forecast. This solution is being used by SBI, ICICI Bank, HDFC Bank, and a few Maharashtra cooperative banks,” noted Jatin Singh, founder and managing director of Skymet.