There is a rise in the number of natural disasters happening all over the world. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there were 16 natural disasters in 2017. The cost of all the damages is in the billions. The amount of destruction they cause is devastating and it has left many of us wondering what more can be done. Unfortunately, we don’t have control over what nature decides to do but we can work on improving our emergency management services. This is especially true for disaster-prone areas.
This doesn’t just have to do with natural disasters either. There are disasters caused by us humans as well. The amount of shootings has grown substantially. According to the FBI, 2017 has the highest number of people killed by shooters. With the amount of technology out there, there are ways we can improve disaster relief. There are tools like Artificial Intelligence, IoT, and blockchain. They all increase the intelligence and effectiveness of our emergency systems.
The increase in disasters has put a huge strain on our emergency and relief services. These new technological options will help automate many different aspects providing better assistance to those affected.
In an emergency situation, AI can not only predict but also evaluate what needs to be done. This streamlines the response and management processes. This predictive technology uses data pulled from locations, weather, emergency calls and more to help teams determine priority. For example, the use of algorithms can use data from a hurricane to determine what areas are most severe and which can wait. It will identify and isolate various climate patterns to predict a huge cyclone.
Even after the disaster has happened AI informs rescue teams where they should deliver supplies. People tend to move around during a crisis. Rather than showing up to a place where people have already moved away from emergency response teams can go directly to the area where people will end up. The reason they can do this is that AI analyzes their behavior and can see their movement in real-time to determine their destination.
Analysis Before Entry
Once a disaster does hit, a response team is assembled and dispatched to help those people. However, before dispatch AI will use images to determine what is damaged, road conditions, water levels, people’s locations, and more. It takes all that data from various locations and places into different damage level categories. It then provides the response team with the list of most severe to least severe so they can provide the right care in the correct places.
AI also has the ability to not only take data from many sources and analyze it but it also recognizes bad data and removes it. The data received ends up being more accurate because the system can determine what is accurate and what is not.
The amount of distress calls the 911 operators to receive every day is overwhelming. They already have a hard time keeping up with the calls as is, but when a disaster hits the number can be 5x more. Voice calls just can’t keep up with the demand. Now, dispatchers are trying to use machine learning tools to help. Rather than just taking voice calls these tools can take information from not only audio, but also pictures, videos, and text to analyze and determine the threat level.
All this data that gets analyzed is then given to various response teams who can then make an educated decision on what their next mission is. This isn’t going to take over those 911 dispatchers but its definitely helping them help more people than ever before.
AI Technology Advances
Although there is still a lot of room for improvement, AI has significantly changed our world. We’re only at the beginning stages of what AI, machine learning, and IoT can do. As of right now, there are emergency responders using various software tools that are currently helping in many ways.
1. Algorithms that can predict what type of disaster might hit, when it will happen, and where the most affected areas will be.
2. Prepare planning modules that simulate those disasters to help responders train so they can be more prepared for real-life situations.
3. Creating a network of all types of responders whether that be first responders, police officers, security teams, and more. This connects all of these people together so that when a disaster hits they can easily find the right responders based on location to make the rescue more efficient.
4. Communicating with people who live in areas where a disaster might hit. The ability to warn people in high-risk areas ahead of time is incredibly useful to help save lives and get people out.
There are many examples where this emergency management services technology has actually worked. During the 2013 earthquake in Pakistan, response services were assisted by AI to successfully make rescue efforts more efficient. During the earthquake in Nepal, the volunteers were able to connect quicker because the system tagged them in pictures and even tweets. Then the AI built a list of the areas that needed help the most to the areas that needed it the least. Those responders went to the most affected areas first helping to save more lives.
In 2015 there was a major earthquake in Chile. The rescue team was actually able to evacuate thousands of people faster then they would have before. The system targeted where responders should go first and then got them deployed very quickly. That resulted in more people getting to safety much faster. The system also sent messages to mobile phones in areas along the coast. These messages were warning people that a Tsunami may hit. Because of those messages, people were able to evacuate beforehand.
What the Internet of Things Can Do
The Internet of Things (IoT) has become a very important tool today especially with regards to its predictive capabilities. IoT works with the use of tiny devices planted all over which relate data back to us. The data provided is almost limitless. Imagine a hurricane hitting a major city and not being able to help people because of the severity of the damage or not being able to provide information to the public.
With the use of temperature, water levels, air quality data, and more the decisions about how to deploy rescue teams are more accurate. Weather, medical services, police, traffic, fire-fighters, and more can collect real-time data to help them identify disasters quicker and respond better.
Right now the primary sources are AI and IoT but blockchain has some real potential to help in the future. Blockchain is primarily used for Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies but it could be the ultimate output for providing sophisticated and useful data from the connection of every type of department. It would be 1 single system that anybody within emergency management services and response teams can use. Blockchain would then tell each type of department where they need to go and what they need to bring. It also lets them know where every other team will be going and what they will be doing and bringing.
It could track every resource being distributed and reduce the amount of loss and diversion so that everything goes to where it needs to go and everyone is accountable. Although there is still a lot of work to be done with blockchain, emergency teams could definitely benefit from its use and it may be worthwhile to look into.
Sensors and drones make us receive very accurate information about the level of damage to land and buildings. Drones make it easier to find people that need to be helped. Instead of rescuers going out in boats or helicopters spending a lot of time searching, drones can scan more areas faster so the teams know exactly where they need to go.
The benefits that AI and other technologies provide to those affected by disasters is amazing. Government agencies, volunteers, and any non-government organizations have these tools at their disposal. Not everyone is leveraging this technology yet, but they should be. Using robots, drones, sensors, algorithms, IoT, and blockchain can help responders in many different ways. Soon we will see droves of drones with more sophisticated technology that scan the areas even better than they do now. They will also be able to deliver necessities to people better.
There is no end to what Artifical Intelligence and other technologies can do. Every day it gets better and better. You can help improve these tools as well or even integrate it into your current system. Contact SDI to talk about the details.
Improving predictions to get more people out before a disaster hits and providing even better rescue efforts to save more people are the 2 most important factors. Constantly improving these tools to do that will, in the end, save more lives.