How AI and mobile can provide help during natural disasters

By Wyatt Urmey

The combination of mobile technology, IoT and AI is proving to be the most effective and efficient means of reaching and informing the public during natural disasters. But we still have a long way to go.

Natural disasters killed 1.35 million people around the world between 1994 and 2013, according to ReliefWeb.

The World Economic Forum reported that between 2003 and 2013, these natural disasters cost more than $1.5 trillion globally. And in 2018, natural disasters have cost the US $3 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

We still need groundbreaking innovation when it comes to natural disasters. In these cases, where time is imperative, mobile is the best way to provide information when and where it matters, and it is even more effective when it is supercharged by AI and contextual data.

AI: The key ingredient

Visual recognition and sentiment analysis are just a few examples of how AI will improve our world and specifically help in disaster preparedness and relief. While mobile technology can offer alerts that an earthquake is coming but may fall short of providing a real-time understanding and situational awareness of the earthquake’s progress and direction.

From where did the earthquake originate? Should we expect tidal changes? Which locations are currently the safest? Social media can provide much of this unstructured intelligence immediately, and mobile can be our best guide in times of trouble through its knowledge of our location and understanding of traffic and other changing circumstances. What is missing to make it happen? AI.

Join the Call for Code to help in disaster preparedness

Similarly, mobile has wildfire apps that provide danger meters and fire meters, but synthesizing the on-the-ground situational and real-time information from sensors, traffic lights and road cameras could be a game changer. Wildfire can move faster than humans can run, and having the advantage of a navigator app that tells us wind speed, traffic conditions, fire team deployments and other data can help lead us to safety. So, what’s missing? AI.

Providing smart guidance based on unstructured data and sudden, changing circumstances is something that is still ahead of us. Much of this is because of the massive calculations involved in processing that unstructured data and turning it into insight.

Mobility as our safe harbor

According to Inside Towers, mobile networks are becoming more reliable in times of crises. For example, during a major hurricane, there were even tests of flying mobile cell phone towers to keep people connected in the storm’s immediate aftermath.

So, who takes this problem on? Though governments have a huge opportunity, developers across the world have a great chance at putting mobile and AI to work to make for improved technological solutions for natural disaster preparedness and recovery.

Developers, we’re calling on you

Developers have transformed the way our world operates and how we live. We’re calling on developers to step up to the challenge to drive positive change for how we prepare for and deal with the aftermath of natural disasters. The Call for Code is a multi-year initiative that is encouraging developers to use their skills and expertise to create new solutions and technologies to assist the planet. And we have the AI tools you need to do just that.

We’re looking forward to see what new solutions developers across the world will bring to the table to offer support during natural disasters and other serious circumstances.

Join the Call for Code to help in disaster preparedness