As part of its work on the use of artificial intelligence to overcome the climate crisis, Google is expanding its flood forecasting capabilities to 80 countries. VP Engineering & Research and Crisis Response Lead Yossi Matias wrote about this in the blog.
With the addition of 60 new countries in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, South and Central America, the Flood Hub platform now covers some of the areas with the highest percentage of the population at risk of flooding and experiencing more extreme weather, he said. It is about 460 million people around the world.
“Governments, aid organizations, and individuals can use Flood Hub to take timely action and prepare for riverine floods, seeing locally relevant flood data and forecasts up to 7 days in advance — an increase from last year, when information was only available 48 hours in advance,” Yosi Matias noted.
He explained that the platform uses various publicly available data, including weather forecasts and satellite images. The technology then combines two models: a hydrologic model that predicts the amount of water flowing in the river, and an inundation model that predicts which areas will be affected and how deep the water will be.
“We’re working to expand flood forecasting alerts in Search and Maps to make this information available to people when they need it the most,” the company emphasized.
It was also recalled how in 2018 forecasting was started in India and extended to Bangladesh. In 2022, the technology was extended to 18 more countries.
“For over a decade, we have been partnering with front line and emergency workers to develop technology and programs that help keep people safe, informed and out of harm’s way,” noted Yossi Matias.
In addition, Google.org is working with organizations such as the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Indian Red Cross Society, and the Inclusive Economics team at Yale University to create offline activist alert networks to increase the reach of Flood Hub alerts.
Natural disasters are becoming more frequent and more intense due to climate change, threatening people’s security and livelihoods. More than 250 million people around the world suffer from floods every year. Economic losses are estimated at about $10 billion.