Google said its flood prediction service, which identifies flood-prone areas through machine learning and alerts users before flooding, now covers the entire Indian region and expands to parts of Bangladesh,media reported. The search giant is understood to have launched the tool in The Batna region of India in 2018, but the company says it is coordinating with local authorities to slowly increase its reach.
In June, it reached a milestone that covered all of India’s worst-hit areas. That means about 200 million Indians and 40 million Bangladeshis can now be alerted through their flood forecasting systems, the company said.
In addition to expanding coverage, Google is testing more accurate predictions and updating how alerts appear on users’ devices. The company says it has sent more than 30 million notifications to Android device users.
Google has long been dedicated to providing early warning of natural disasters and national emergencies such as floods, wildfires and earthquakes. Many of them are handled through public alert programs. Just last month, the company launched a new service that turns Android devices into a network of seismic detectors that use accelers inside phones and tablets to detect seismic vibrations and send alerts to users.
However, Google does not use information from customer devices in flood forecasting. Instead, it uses a mix of historical and contemporary data such as rainfall, river levels, and flood simulations, and uses machine learning to create new predictive models.
Google says it is experimenting with a new model that will provide more accurate alerts. The company said its latest forecast model could be “twice as long ahead of the previous system” and could provide people with information about the depth of the flood. “In more than 90 per cent of cases, our forecast will provide the correct water level within a 15cm error range,” the Google researchers said. “
A Google study of the Ganges-Yalu-Zambe river basin forecast, in collaboration with scientists at Yale University, found that 70 percent of people who received flood warnings received alerts before the floodwaters arrived, while 65 percent of households that received alerts took action. “Even in an area of low education, limited education, and extreme poverty, most citizens act on the information they receive,” the researchers wrote. So the warning is definitely worth it. “
But Google also points out that there is still a problem with smartphone alerts. The main problem is the inability to use smartphones and a lack of trust in technology warnings. Respondents who spoke to the researchers said it was still desirable that they would prefer to receive warnings from local leaders and share them over loudspeakers and phones.
Google said it was investigating the issues and began working with the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Federation of Red And Red Cross Society. It hopes that after it shares flood forecasts with these organizations, they can disseminate this information through their own networks.