Canadian city using AI to predict who might become homeless

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TORONTO – As makeshift tent cities spring up across Canada to house rough sleepers who fear using shelters due to COVID-19, one city is leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to predict which residents risk becoming homeless. Computer programmers working for the city of London, Ontario, 170km southwest of the provincial capital Toronto, say the new system is the first of its kind anywhere – and it could offer insights for other regions grappling with homelessness. "Shelters are just packed to the brim across the country right now," said Jonathan Rivard, London's Homeless Prevention Manager, who works on the AI system. "We need to do a better job of providing resources to individuals before they hit rock bottom, not once they do," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Canada is seeing a second wave of coronavirus cases, with Ontario's government warning the province could experience "worst-case scenarios seen in northern Italy and New York City" if trends continue.