I am from Kashmir, a region prone to earthquakes and floods. When I was 17 years old, in 2005, 70,000 people lost their lives in an earthquake in my hometown. This event compelled me to study engineering and specifically in 2005, start performing earthquake engineering research. Then, in 2014, a combination of two events on different sides of the world inspired the creation of One Concern. In 2014, during a break from graduate school at Stanford, I was visiting my parents in Kashmir when a large flood engulfed the state.
Give artificial intelligence some of the credit. Hydro One used an electrical-outage prediction tool developed by International Business Machines Corp. IBM -1.14% that combines AI technology and the resources of IBM's Weather Co. subsidiary. The tool helped predict the severity of the storm and the locations that would be hardest hit, so Hydro One knew where to position 1,400 front-line staff who were needed to restore power and to handle the nearly 130,000 customer calls that came in during the outage. IBM's outage-prediction tool is also being used, with 70% accuracy, by other cities throughout North America to predict power outages as far in advance as 72 hours before storms are expected.
Hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, floods, volcanic eruptions and tornadoes are constant threats to society. While they have always happened, humans are now on the scene. Human lives and property are constantly threatened. Such risks are further amplified along coastlines, fault lines, volcanic regions, or flood zones. Craig Fugate is the former FEMA Administrator under President Obama and one of the most effective emergency managers in the world (period).
A startup company in California is using machine learning and artificial intelligence to advise fire departments about how to plan for earthquakes and respond to them. The company, One Concern, hopes its algorithms can take a lot of the guesswork out of the planning process for disaster response by making accurate predictions about earthquake damage. It's one of a handful of companies rolling out artificial intelligence and machine learning systems that could help predict and respond to floods, cyber-attacks and other large-scale disasters. Nicole Hu, One Concern's chief technology officer, says the key is to feed the computers three main categories of data. The first is data about homes and other buildings, such as what materials they're made of, when they were built and how likely they are to collapse when the ground starts shaking.