Sunday, August 23, 2015

The travails of forecasters

My academic degrees are both in economics and the largest part of my career in BT since leaving University thirty years ago this year has involved using the skills I acquired at university to forecast various numbers of interest to particular parts of the company, such as how many faults we are likely to get, how many orders for new products, how many calls about those faults and orders, how many people we need manning the phones to take those calls and how many engineers we need to have available to fix the faults or install the new kit.

I have a cousin who used to be a senior forecaster at the Met Office. So it is a family joke that my profession as an economic forecaster gives his profession as a weather forecaster something to look down on.

Yesterday the Met Office said that this weekend would see a combination of very hot weather and horrendous storms, and that's certainly what we've had in West Cumbria with a massive thunderstorm last night but a very hot day today so far.

I've used Met Office services during my professional career (weather has a significant impact on telecommunications services) and generally been impressed with them, so I was surprised to see the announcement today that they have lost the contract to provide the BBC with many aspects of weather forecast information. However, the BBC has not said who will replace them so it is of course too early to judge whether the competitor has offered a good deal or just a cheaper one.

Watch this space, I think.


Jim said...

Its ok, even as an economics forecaster you can look down on the polling forecasters at the moment.

Perhaps with the news stories the BBC have focused on over the last few years, where the only thing that is news is something that is firstly reported by someone in the clique, its not surprising that the BBC have decided to replace the Met Office, they were delivering information as it became available, but they don't have the prestige of the tea leaf reader from the Guardian.

Chris Whiteside said...

Yes, opinion pollsters are certainly doing worse than economic forecasters at the moment !