Luxembourg rain monitoring startup Databourg Systems will soon use its technology to help authorities in the Philippines forecast landslides and flash floods after securing a major customer there.
In Databourg Systems’ latest partnership with Komunidad, an Asian environmental intelligence SaaS, its software will be used to create early warning systems for landslides and flash floods in the Philippines and enable communities to better prepare for such disasters.
“Having a nationwide coverage of rain monitoring will be a game changer for this country,” Databourg founder and CEO Ahmad Gharanjik told Silicon Luxembourg, adding: “We are very proud that after years of R&D and hard work now we can really see the result. And especially that, with our solution, we can help local communities, and hopefully save lives.”
“Our main objective is to make rain information available to climate-vulnerable communities that don’t have rain monitoring infrastructure. With this network, communities and businesses can quickly get local rain information and no longer invest and maintain expensive rain monitoring equipment,” Komunidad founder Felix Ayque said, adding: “We are excited to build solutions using this network to help many industries for purposes of safety, operational efficiency, disaster preparedness, business continuity and more.”
Known as “the rain company”, Databourg was founded in 2017 out of the findings of Gharanjik’s PhD research project that examined the impact of rain on satellite communication networks.
“There are more than 3 million satellite dishes around the world, so there’s a huge potential.”Ahmad Gharanjik, Founder & CEO of Databourg
“There is a correlation between rain intensity and the signal quality. I realised that we can actually do reverse engineering. By looking at the signal quality, we can extract the rain formula,” explained Gharanjik.
Thanks to agreements with satellite operators, the startup is able to gather data on satellite signal quality. From this it extracts information to map rainfall in real-time. Databourg sells this intelligence for weather forecasting, agriculture, transportation and even insurance applications.
Some European countries and the US have developed infrastructure to detect and map rainfall. However, the founder points out that for almost 90% of Earth’s surface, there is no reliable rainfall data. “The main reason for that is that rain sensors are very expensive. So the weather service these regions receive is 30-40 years behind what we have in Europe,” he explained.
Databourg is able to offer a low-cost solution because it uses existing satellite dishes as rain sensors. Presently, the startup has access to data through 6,000 sensors in France and 6,000 in the Philippines.
“There are more than 3 million satellite dishes around the world, so there’s a huge potential,” Gharanjik adds.
Databourg has rain data coverage in four countries: France, the Philippines, Indonesia and New Zealand. At the end of 2022, it will add Brazil, where it expects to have access to data from some 10,000 sensors. And in 2023, the firm plans to expand into eight new countries, including India.
“I think in two years we can have global coverage. The interesting part is that by collaborating with one or two satellite operators, we can expand this very quickly,” explains Gharanjik.
Given the increase in intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, the founder expects demand for the technology to grow.
Databourg has received a number of R&D grants for its technology, including the Lux Impulse programme with the European Space Agency. It secured its first customer in France, a small weather company which uses weather intelligence for agricultural applications.
Its current funding round, which is expected to close at the end of 2022, will help the firm to hire eight new staff members, in sales and technical roles.