Google is expanding its warning systems to warn people of floods and fires

Powered by artificial intelligence, these tools have been improved and are now available in more countries.

According to a United Nations report released in October, half the world lacks adequate early warning systems for natural disasters that save lives. To warn people of these dangers, such as floods and fires, Google has developed tools powered by artificial intelligence (AI). A few days before COP27, the annual conference on climate change, the company announcement that these systems are now available in more countries.

Better tools to predict floods

With natural disasters increasing in frequency and intensity due to the climate change, Google wants to bring reliable information to people so they can put themselves on the safe side with the help of alerts sent to users of Android smartphones and phones that have the Google app installed. The firm started using AI to predict floods in India in 2018 before extending this system to Bangladesh. It claims to have sent 115 million alert notifications to 23 million people in those two countries last year.

Google will offer these flood forecasts for the river basins of 18 other countries in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia (Brazil, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Cameroon, Guinea, Angola, etc.). Additionally, alerts can now be issued up to a week in advance thanks to the AI ​​model that uses weather forecast data, as Sella Nevo, director of engineering at Google, told the outlet. The Verge. It previously used data from water level gauges, which limited the warning window to 48 hours.

The company also announced the launch of FloodHub, an improved tool, worldwide. It is a platform displaying flood forecasts and indicating when and where they may occur in order to help those directly at risk and to provide essential information to aid organizations and governments. Although this interactive map can be used by anyone to search for these forecasts, it only contains data in the 20 countries that Google monitors with its system.

Detect fires to help people at risk

Regarding fires, the detection system, so far available for the United States and Canada, has been extended to Mexico and parts of Australia. To detect the perimeter of a fire, the Mountain View firm uses new AI models based on satellite imagery, with the real-time location displayed in its search engine and in the Maps application. The company also uses machine learning to improve fire detection and monitoring.

Google’s tools have not yet been extended to France, but the country has had its own alert system since the end of June. Called EN-Alertit allows the population to be warned of natural disasters as well as biological, health or public safety events, with a notification sent to the smartphone of people present in the danger zone.

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Google is expanding its warning systems to warn people of floods and fires

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