For several years, Google has been using AI to develop a system for predicting wildfires and floods. As climate change worsens, Google announced that it is expanding AI-powered flood and wildfire tracking to 20 new countries ahead of the COP27 summit next week.
Google began using artificial intelligence to predict floods in India in 2018, and the program was expanded to Bangladesh in 2020.
Google says it will now provide flood forecasts for river basins in an additional 18 countries. Brazil, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Malawi, Guinea, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Namibia, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Angola, and South Africa are among the countries.
The notifications are sent to all Android phone users and any phone with the Google search app installed. To receive alerts, users must have an active internet connection and Google location services enabled on their phones.
Google will also launch a new tool called Flood Hub, which will be available globally. Flood Hub will plot flood forecasts on a map and show where they are likely to occur.
Google also announced that it is expanding its support for wildfire tracking tools in Search and Maps. The improved tracking, which was first introduced in the United States, is now available in the United States, Mexico, Canada, and parts of Australia.
Why Are Ai-powered Flood and Wildfire Tracking Required?
According to a UN report, nearly half of the world lacks adequate early warning systems for disasters such as floods and wildfires. With climate change on the rise, natural disasters such as floods and wildfires have become commonplace.
Every year, floods affect 250 million people. As a result, a system that can predict these life-threatening events and provide residents with early warning is required. This is where Google comes in, with its powerful AI and massive amounts of data. Google hopes that its services will fill some gaps by providing users with early warnings on their phones.
“This geographic expansion is possible because of our recent breakthroughs in AI-based flood forecasting models, and we’re committed to expanding to more countries,” wrote Yossi Matias, Google vice president of engineering and crisis response lead, in a blog post.
How Does Google’s Artificial Intelligence Predict Floods and Wildfires?
Google used water level gauges to forecast floods. However, in many developing countries, the amount of data required by Google to accurately predict floods was not available. As a result, Google changed its model, and weather forecast data is now the primary driver of the AI model.
According to senior staff engineering manager Sella Nevo, this update will allow Google to issue flood warnings up to a week in advance.
Google uses data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA satellites to track wildfires. Google is now improving wildfire detection and monitoring by combining machine learning and satellite imagery. This information is used to notify the public as well as to aid in firefighting efforts.