Vaisala Open Weather Data Challenge

RainMiner Wins Vaisala Open Weather Data Challenge​

Vaisala launched the Open Weather Data Challenge for software and weather enthusiasts to leverage open weather data in innovative ways​ in November 2015. The competition generated tremendous energy, with 23 awesome submissions received. From creative and fresh ideas from around the world the RainMiner concept by Mounir Ennenbach and Paulina Concha of Columbia University in New York, U.S.A. emerged as the winner of the 20,000 € prize.

The RainMiner is a planning tool aimed at helping shift from centralized water distribution systems to more localized, decentralized networks. The concept leverages precipitation datasets (open weather data), cleans data so that information is more representative, and generates water supply rate information.


​Example of ​​the RainMiner application showing an ​​average annual supply rate in the contiguous US based on rooftop area estimates derived from a GLM model.​​​

According to Paulina Concha “Our goal was to create a rainwater harvesting (RWH) sizing tool using open weather data to measure regional reliability based on precipitation, rooftop area, and population. Our solution arose out of a need to shift centralized water distribution systems to a more localized, decentralized network. Globally, water disruptions due to intermittent supply and mismanagement of water resources can also be alleviated through implementation of RWH techniques.”

RainMiner looks at rainwater harvesting, “from an individualized household standpoint and water resource perspective, innovating on existing tools that consider local systems. Our tool will help city planners and individuals make decisions about installing rainwater harvesting systems. Another major innovation was developing a novel deconvolution mechanism for gridded precipitation that reduced error to within 10% in most cases. The deconvolution algorithm was developed using actual weather station data in a trial-and-error process to make sure that it reflected conditions on the ground. Use of regional, gridded data allows for the unprecedented, wide-scale implementation of RWH technologies by making it more widely available”, said Mounir Ennenbach.

Evaluation Criteria

The challenge had the following three criteria for a successful submission:

  • Novelty
    • The idea and application should demonstrate originality and uniqueness, with a focus on innovation.
  • Potential for Impact
    • At Vaisala, we believe that weather observations can lead to a better world.
    • From this point of view, we gauged the potential the idea has at impacting weather- and climate-related issues.
  • Feasibility
    • The key to any innovation is its ability to be realized.
    • How feasible is it that the submitted idea can make the impact it is set out to achieve? ​

​For any details about the challenge rules please refer to the official rules​​.

Every day, millions of people are touched by the technologies Vaisala creates. Our technologies provide information on weather and other environmental phenomena to meteorologists, road authorities, and other renewable energy industry players, as well as controlled industrial environments, for example. 

We believe that weather data, much of which is free and open to anyone, are underutilized. Open weather data can be used to create and deploy disruptive technologies, or develop applications that can address weather and/or climate-related issues around the world.​ Read more about the importance of the open weather data >>