In order to help people around the world prepare for potential flooding, Google has released its new FloodHub platform. This may buy governments and aid organisations some time to evacuate people to safer areas. According to The Verge, Google has used data from multiple drainage basins to train an AI model that can accurately predict flood water depth and timing in areas where there aren’t enough data points.
Areas with moderate flooding are depicted in orange, those with catastrophic flooding in red, and those with normal water levels in teal, all as shown by FloodHub. By clicking on a data point, viewers can see whether water levels are expected to rise or fall in that area over time. The company added that switching to weather data instead of water gauges allows for flood warnings to be sent out seven days in advance, rather than just 48 hours.
At the same time, 18 additional countries across Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia will now have access to Google’s earthquake and flood alert notification systems. South Africa, Angola, the Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Malawi, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Angola, South Sudan, Namibia, Liberia, and Brazil are on that list.
Google’s Search and Maps features are used to disseminate incoming flood warnings. It claims to have sent out 115 million such alerts to 23 million people in danger last year, which could have prevented the loss of many lives.
And on the other end of the spectrum, wildfires can be just as devastating. Google claims it is using new artificial intelligence models that rely on satellite imagery to detect wildfire boundaries, which is important because these fires are becoming larger and more frequent. Maps and Search send out warnings so that drivers can take alternate routes and fire departments can better serve their communities.
Mexico, the United States, Canada, and some regions of Australia are all live with Google’s wildfire detection systems. Since July, the company boasts that it has covered 30 major wildfire incidents across the United States and Canada. While firefighters work to contain wildfires, a system that can monitor their progress in real time could save lives and property.
Google’s disaster alert systems will be a great help to the general public in the event of a major disaster. Smaller economies and developing nations that lack the resources to invest in or gain access to such technologies will also benefit greatly from them. However minimal your preparations may be, they’re better than nothing in the face of a natural disaster.