Rwanda has become one of the 60 countries that will benefit from Google’s Flood Hub, an advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform designed for flood forecasting. The Flood Hub provides early warnings to residents in regions highly prone to flood risks.
Originally launched in India in 2018, the AI-powered app has expanded its reach to Bangladesh, a country significantly affected by escalating flood risks due to climate change. Google’s efforts to mitigate the devastating impacts of floods and offer critical support to vulnerable communities have led to this expansion.
“With the inclusion of territories in 60 new countries across Africa, the Asia-Pacific region, Europe, and South and Central America, our flood hub platform now covers regions with the highest percentage of population exposed to flood risk and experiencing extreme weather, benefiting a global population of 460 million people,” Google said in a statement.
Rwanda has faced flood-related challenges in the past. In May, devastating downpours led to floods and landslides, resulting in the loss of more than 130 lives across the Western, Northern, and Southern Provinces.
Globally, flooding impacts over 250 million individuals annually and causes approximately $10 billion in economic damages.
Through Flood Hub, governments, aid organizations, and individuals can take timely action and prepare for riverine floods. The platform provides locally relevant flood data and forecasts up to 7 days in advance–an improvement from last year’s 48-hour advance notice.
Flood Hub employs AI technology that utilizes diverse, publicly-available data sources, including weather forecasts and satellite imagery. It combines two models: the Hydrologic Model, which forecasts river flow, and the Inundation Model, which predicts affected areas and water depth.
“Flood Hub is part of our Crisis Response initiative to provide people with access to trusted information and resources during critical moments, which also includes wildfires and earthquakes. Over the past decade, we have collaborated with frontline and emergency workers to develop technologies and programs that ensure people’s safety, keep them informed, and out of harm’s way,” Google’s statement added.
The Flood Hub expansion will now include several African countries, such as Burundi, Eswatini, Guinea Bissau, Lesotho, Madagascar, Rwanda, Senegal, and Zimbabwe.