From experiment to prototype and commercial production…to refinement and improvement…such is the cycle of innovation. Innovation can be revolutionary. It can be evolutionary. But the process yields ever more promise for society over time.
With more than 35 years in the insurance industry, I've "grown up" looking at risk from many viewpoints. I've watched as new tools emerge to make our industry more aware, more productive and more insightful. I've led teams to challenge risk assumptions, while pushing the boundaries of risk evaluation. Along the way, there have been milestones that defined innovation in our industry, put a stake in the ground and challenged us to pioneer further.
I believe 2016 is one of those milestone moments.
Today, everything is impacted by data. "Big" data is bigger than big. It's enormous. It's global. Data rules the world. It is the new normal. Success or failure often hinges on data, or lack of it.
Data modeling drives risk certainty. To better understand today's risks, one must have access to data, along with the technology and tools to effectively and accurately interpret this information. Historical data builds confidence, but that is only one part of preparing a relevant risk profile. Our world is changing, our climate is growing more unpredictable, and our risk landscape is broader than ever. We, therefore, need technology and tools beyond historical data to inform our 21st century risk taking.
Swiss Re is at the forefront of innovation and resilience efforts around the globe. For example, our proprietary CatNet® tool combines our in-depth historical natural hazard and climate knowledge with modern data and predictive analytics. It allows clients to input their physical assets and visually model catastrophe scenarios (eg, flood, hurricane, earthquake, etc). CatNet® also enables clients to better understand and assess the impacts of catastrophe and climate change on their global property portfolio and bottom line.
In the insurance industry, technology can improve our analysis of risk in numerous ways. Other industries, like aviation and renewable energy, deploy technology to improve transparency and help them understand and avoid potential risks too.
We see this directly through our partnership with Solar Impulse. As the official insurance provider of Solar Impulse, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions is keenly aware of the risks posed by unstable weather systems and how they can negatively impact the plane and pilots.
Solar Impulse has a large team of experts in their mission control center that constantly monitor weather, flight and climate data to determine the safest conditions and route. Keeping the pilots (and plane) safe is a top priority. Combining technology with informed human judgment and experience helps the Solar Impulse team mitigate flight risk.
Interestingly, take-off and landing are often the riskiest scenarios for Solar Impulse. The team must fully understand local topography and carefully monitor wind speeds, gusts and crosswinds to ensure a successful flight. However, the team must also monitor weather and micro-climate conditions to ensure the plane doesn't encounter thunderstorms, rain and excessive turbulence. As important as this is on a local level, the tools and technology used by Solar Impulse must scale globally to raise confidence in their analysis.
Technology, data modeling and predictive analytics give Solar Impulse confidence they can achieve their mission: to circumnavigate the globe using solar power alone. We applaud their pioneering spirit and appreciate their risk mitigation processes.
They've already reached many milestones – the Solar Impulse team successfully crossed Asia in 2015; Andre Borschberg made a record-breaking solo flight of 5 days and 5 nights without fuel across the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Hawaii; in 2016, they re-launched from Hawaii and landed just outside of San Francisco in late April; and now they are successfully crossing the US, as the team, pilots and plane smartly avoided "tornado alley." The plane is nearing New York City and currently sits in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, undergoing regular maintenance.
We truly have entered into a new normal. Climate and weather uncertainties abound. Yet, Swiss Re's CatNet® and Swiss Re Corporate Solutions' partnership with Solar Impulse prove we can successfully navigate and better understand climate uncertainties through predictive data modeling, paired with intuitive human judgment.
Category: Climate/natural disasters: Climate change, Disaster risk, Drought, Earthquakes, Floods/storms, Resilience, Sustainable energy: Solar