Google AI aids flood alerts in India and Bangladesh

Google AI aids flood alerts in India and Bangladesh

While much has been written about the potential of artificial intelligence in business, a practical application of AI has hit the headlines this week that focuses on its use for a more pressing problem in South Asia, at least at the moment: flooding.

Google has said that it is expanding its AI-powered flood forecasting to the whole of India and Bangladesh. The aim is to provide greater details on timing and water depths in its alerts. Of course alerts are of little use if people can’t understand them, so they will now be available in nine new local languages.

In addition Google claims that its new forecasting model will allow it to double the lead time of many of its alerts. This will give more time for governments and citizens in both India and Bangladesh to prepare for floods.

Google has been working with governments for a number of years to develop systems that predict when and where flooding will occur and keep people safe and informed. In this case, Google says it has been expanding its forecasting models and services in partnership with the Indian Central Water Commission and the Bangladesh Water Development Board.

Now that the company’s systems extend to the whole of India it says it can help better protect more than 200 million people across more than 250,000 square kilometres — more than 20 times its coverage last year. “To date, we’ve sent out around 30 million notifications to people in flood-affected areas,” says the company.

The company currently covers more than 40 million people in Bangladesh, and is working to extend this to the whole country.

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