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AI predicting floods in India

October 1, 2018 • Internet of Things, Top Stories

Keeping people safe with AI-enabled flood forecasting

Keeping people safe with AI-enabled flood forecasting

As part of the Google Public Alerts program, Google is helping to keep people safe from floods and similar natural disasters with AI-enabled flood forecasting.

Last year, Google launched SOS Alerts on Search and Maps to make emergency information more accessible and has since activated SOS Alerts in more than 200 crisis situations. In addition to that, they’ve activated tens of thousands of Google Public Alerts, which have been viewed more than 1.5 billion times.

“To help improve awareness of impending floods, we’re using AI and significant computational power to create better forecasting models that predict when and where floods will occur, and incorporating that information into Google Public Alerts,” writes Google’s engineering VP, Yossi Matias, in a blog post.

“A variety of elements—from historical events, to river level readings, to the terrain and elevation of a specific area—feed into our models. From there, we generate maps and run up to hundreds of thousands of simulations in each location. With this information, we’ve created river flood forecasting models that can more accurately predict not only when and where a flood might occur, but the severity of the event as well.”

Because floods are such devastating natural disasters and because 20 percent of global flood-related fatalities happen in India, Google is partnering with India’s Central Water Commission to acquire the necessary data to roll out early flood warnings, starting with the Patna region.

The first alert of this kind went out earlier this month after heavy rains in the Panta region and they are looking to expand this kind of early warning coverage to more countries around the world.

By Daniëlle Kruger
Follow Daniëlle Kruger on Twitter
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