Weather tracking blockchain in West Africa, but transparency on a rain check

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An estimated 381 million people live in West Africa. Unfortunately, the region has also been classified as a hotspot for climate change, which is likely to affect crop yields and food production while harming unique wildlife.

At the same time, West Africa is well on the way to becoming the next blockchain hotspot. The region continues to show interest in cryptocurrency and digital solutions. In 2019, Nigeria was the number one country for Bitcoin searches on Google, possibly related to the importance of the introduction of fintech across the continent. According to the Ernst & Young 2019 Global Fintech Adoption Index, South Africa, one of the leading countries, is the fourth largest emerging market in terms of interest in fintech.

A blockchain project that collects weather data

Given Africa’s acceptance of new technologies and crypto, the region is arguably an ideal place to implement blockchain-based solutions to address the ongoing geographic challenges.

One of the companies looking to make a difference is Telokanda – an open source weather technology company founded by a former engineer from Boeing and NASA – which has launched a blockchain-based weather balloon initiative. Telokanda has partnered with the blockchain platform Telos to upload weather data generated by weather balloons. These are devices at high altitudes that collect and transmit information about air pressure, temperature, humidity and wind speed via a small sensor called a radiosonde.

The sensors transmit data in real time to the Telos blockchain, where the information is then stored in RAM. Telokanda uses this information to alert first responders to severe weather conditions up to 12 hours in advance. The company is also developing a prototype SMS service to automatically notify citizens when balloons detect harsh weather conditions.

Douglas Horn, chief architect of Telos, told Cointelegpraph that the Telokanda weather balloon project is currently being piloted in West Africa due to an urgent need for weather data in the region:

“The lack of weather information in Africa has a strong negative impact on the local population, who have to do without modern weather forecast. This is also a global challenge as the lack of data in Africa limits meteorological predictions in the Atlantic and beyond. “

Data shows that weather observations from Africa are mainly available as incomplete, paper-based records. With the support of the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva and the German weather service Deutscher Wetterdienst, regions in Africa are hesitant to digitize historical climate data. According to a nature Articles, millions of weather records in Africa remain in cardboard boxes and rely on outdated technology while digitization efforts are held up due to problems with data ownership and data distribution.

Despite the region’s challenges in recording weather conditions, Telokanda founder Nicolas Lopez told Cointelegraph that the company’s interest is in working in West Africa, in part because collecting its weather data is important for US insurance companies to do so Analyze risk of hurricanes off the coast of Africa. “It’s a unique region where knowing the weather is helpful not only to the local population, but also to the US, which is thousands of miles away,” he said.

While the Telokanda weather balloons equipped with sensors collect data in West Africa, the Telos blockchain provides public transparency so that everyone can use and access the information collected. Although data transparency and the use of this information by others have been frowned upon by Africa’s weather officials, Horn claimed that the project could prove its worth. “We want to make the data collection method as open as possible so that everyone can contribute,” he said.

Cryptocurrency Incentives to Collect Weather Data

In addition to using blockchain for data transparency, the project uses smart contracts to send cryptocurrency to participants.

According to Horn, a smart contract triggers payments in Telos tokens (TLOS) to a user’s digital wallet as soon as a weather balloon transmits data to the Telos blockchain. Participants will receive a reward of up to 1,000 TLOS, or approximately $ 15, which can then be converted into Nigerian Naira or Ghanaian Cedis through the Sesacash payment platform. Exchanges or automated market makers on Telos can also instantly exchange TLOS for a variety of stable coins with dollar support or the South African rand.

The cryptocurrency incentive is a key feature of Telokanda’s weather balloon project, especially in regions like Africa that have suffered from high inflation rates and volatile national currencies. For example, a recent report on the state of crypto in Africa states that the South African rand has lost over 50% of its value against the dollar over the past 10 years. The report notes that these and other economic challenges make Africa an ideal region for crypto adoption.

Regulatory challenges remain

The challenges related to data sharing, while innovative, can hinder the adoption of Telokanda’s weather balloon project. According to a 2018 report by the United Nations on the exchange of climate data in Africa, which reviews the Resolution 40 of the World Meteorological Organization on policy and practice for the exchange of meteorological data and products regulating international data exchange, still exist major obstacles to efficient data exchange in Africa.

The report notes that strategic obstacles include the lack of a legal obligation in WMO Resolution 40 to make data available domestically or for international use. The document also states that national laws and regulations in Africa restrict access to weather data due to national security concerns. In addition, many governments in the region have no understanding of the value of data sharing and the infrastructure it requires. While cryptocurrency is being rolled out in Africa with open arms, data transparency over blockchain networks may not be so welcome.

While that may be the case, Lopez remains confident, noting that Telokanda has already completed seven prototype launches in North America and Nigeria and is now opening its program further. Lopez went on to comment on the introduction of the cryptocurrency:

“The biggest hurdle we see is access to the Eosio currency in some countries, as this has to be done on a country-by-country basis. In Senegal, for example, we would like to provide drone operators with wind direction data, but there is no clear exchange for the currency. “