Google Takes Its Flood Forecasting for India and Bangladesh to the Next Level
Google had initiated its life-saving flood forecasting system for areas highly-susceptible to floods in India back in 2018. The first alert had been issued in September 2018 in the Patna region. Until now, Google reportedly sent out around 30 million notifications to people and saved many lives in India.
Covers all of India, and a part of Bangladesh
Google seemingly has kept its word on expanding coverage to more places. Yossi Matias explained on a blog post that the forecasting system now extends to the entirety of India, through which they can help more than 200 million people in 96.5 square miles (250.000 square kilometers). The whole coverage corresponds to an area 20 times larger than last year's.
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The system covers Bangladesh too now. Although they don't cover the entirety of the country for now, the warnings have the potential of being extended up to 40 million citizens with the partnership of Bangladesh Water Development Board. And unsurprisingly, Google's plan is to extend the system to cover every corner of Bangladesh, as it is with the case of India.
The reason Google chose to move on with Bangladesh is the country's extremely high average precipitation per year. The average amount usually reaches 4000 mm, some years, it even exceeds it.
What does the system provide for citizens in danger zones?
The lead-time of alerts provided by the forecasting model is vital for the citizens located in danger zones. People get a chance to evacuate their households once the alert is sent. Google doubled the alert time up to 48 hours now, giving even more time for the residents to pack up.
The system also presents information about flood depth. "... in areas where we can produce depth maps throughout the floodplain, we’re sharing information about depth in the user’s village or area," as Matlas added.
Nine languages are supported in the AI-backed system in total, including Hindi and Bengali as an update. To introduce the alerts in a more stimulating way, forecasting notifications include both text and visuals when sent to the user.
The company apparently didn't forget about those who do not have access to smart electronic devices. Google.org has a plan to start working with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, to create a network among locals and alert people without smartphones.
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