August 28, 2012

When the Insurance & Technology editorial team developed its coverage of the lessons of Hurricane Andrew on the catastrophe's 20th anniversary, we had only a few hints that the insurance industry would be applying those lessons barely a week later. Unfortunately, with Hurricane Isaac crawling closer to the Gulf Coast -- and likely to hit New Orleans and surrounding areas as a Category 1 or 2 storm -- it appears that insurers soon will be called upon to deploy the latest and greatest in terms of mobile technology, geolocation capabilities and claims response.

Interestingly, it's not just insurers, governments and builders that have adopted leading-edge technologies to improve their abilities to forecast, plan and respond to natural catastrophes. The consumerization trend that is transforming enterprise computing also has provided the public with a variety of tools and apps to help them become more prepared (or more anxious, depending on your point of view). Time published a list of what it describes as "2012′s top hurricane tracking apps for those on the go with tablets or smartphones." On the roster are the following apps:

  • Hurricane Tracker (iOS)
  • Hurricane Hound (Android)
  • Hurricane / Hurricane HD (iOS)
  • Hurricane Software (Android)
  • iHurricane HD (iOS)
  • Hurricane -- American Red Cross (Android, iOS)

Between these kinds of mobile apps, live feeds from Weather Channel and other forecasters, and the use of Twitter and other mobile channels to push alerts, almost anyone can do sophisticated analysis and forecasting of weather-related risks. It will be interesting to see if these capabilities make a difference in terms of casualties and losses once Hurricane Isaac makes landfall.

Katherine Burger is Editorial Director of Bank Systems & Technology and Insurance & Technology, members of UBM TechWeb's InformationWeek Financial Services. She assumed leadership of Bank Systems & Technology in 2003 and of Insurance & ...