Google on Tuesday announced the extension of its Flood Hub platform to scores of additional countries, providing early flood warnings to hundreds of millions of people living in some of the regions exposed to the highest levels of flood risk.
The AI-enabled app was first debuted in India in 2018 before being expanded to cover Bangladesh, one of the countries most exposed to worsening levels of flood risk as climate impacts intensify.
Google announced it was extending the service to 80 countries, with the addition of 60 new countries across Africa, Asia-Pacific, Central and South America and Europe, including the U.K.
The company said the platform includes some of the territories with the highest percentages of population exposed to flood risk and experiencing more extreme weather, covering 460 million people globally.
It also confirmed the functionality on the platform has been improved, with it providing locally relevant flood data and forecasts up to seven days in advance — an increase on the previous 48-hour window for new forecasts.
Announcing the move on Google's The Keyword blog, Yossi Matias, vice president for engineering and research and crisis response lead at the tech giant, explained how Flood Hub's AI draws on diverse, publicly available data sources, such as weather forecasts and satellite imagery. "The technology then combines two models: the Hydrologic Model, which forecasts the amount of water flowing in a river, and the Inundation Model, which predicts what areas are going to be affected and how deep the water will be," he said.
He added that the company was working to expand flood forecasting alerts into Google's Search and Maps services "to make this information available to people when they need it the most."
"Flood Hub is part of our Crisis Response work to provide people access to trusted information and resources in critical moments — also including wildfires and earthquakes," he said. "For over a decade, we have been partnering with front line and emergency workers to develop technology and programs that help keep people safe, informed and out of harm's way."