Google has been making use of AI to predict nearly everything from flight delays to earthquake after-effects. Moreover, the SOS Alerts and Google Public Alerts have also helped people all over the world to avoid emergency situations. The tech giant has now partnered up with India’s Water Commission (CWC) to generate flood warnings. Floods are the natural disasters which affect 250 million people all over the world each year. This causes a loss of billions of dollars and several fatalities. More than 20% of these deaths happened in India alone. The effective and accurate forecasting of the floods can help individuals and authorities to stay out of danger and face an unexpected crisis. An early warning will be able to convey the people the information which they need to avoid or circumvent the floods into more dangerous areas.
So far, the warning system has not been able to provide useful flood alerts that can allow the victims to leave the areas where this natural calamity is arriving. Google, in collaboration with CWC, aims to change this situation for good. The government organization’s statement states, “Till 2016, CWC was disseminating flood levels with maximum lead time of one day” With Google’s input, the information will now have a three days headstart and people will be able to move to safer areas. According to CWC, the Google collaboration will achieve this goal using artificial intelligence, machine learning, geospatial mapping and analysis of hydrological observation data. The result will be a system which provides location-targeted, flood warnings.
The first alert was sent in the region at the beginning of September after a period of heavy rains. These alerts will now be shown in the Google Public Alerts. Google engineering VP Yossi Matias said 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.” He further added, “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.”
CWC says that the Google-enabled forecasting will be used on a trial basis for the flood season of 2018 and can be scaled up in the future. The collaboration is expected to save the country a lot of money as well as reduce the flood-related losses. Meanwhile, Google is also hoping to expand their program to more geographical locations which extend the reach of the system’s life-saving impact. Matias said, “We’re also looking to expand coverage to more countries, to help more people around the world get access to these early warnings, and help keep them informed and safe.”