The flood forecasting pilot initiative incorporates AI and physics-based modeling to provide accurate real-time flood forecasting and alerts. The models can more accurately predict not only when and where a flood might occur, but also the severity of the event.
According to the project website, "Several years ago, we identified flood forecasts as a unique opportunity to improve people’s lives, and began looking into how Google’s infrastructure and machine learning expertise can help in this field. Last year, we started our flood forecasting pilot in the Patna region, and since then we have expanded our flood forecasting coverage, as part of our larger AI for Social Good efforts. A critical step in developing an accurate flood forecasting system is to develop inundation models, which use either a measurement or a forecast of the water level in a river as an input, and simulate the water behavior across the floodplain. This allows us to translate current or future river conditions, to highly spatially accurate risk maps - which tell us what areas will be flooded and what areas will be safe. Inundation models depend on four major components, each with its own challenges and innovations: Real-time Water Level Measurements, Elevation Map Creation, Hydraulic Modeling," https://ai.googleblog.com/2019/09/an-inside-look-at-flood-forecasting.html
Better flood forecasting will not only directly help people reduce the loss of life and property and better cope with the impact of climate change, but also provide the necessary infrastructure to support local urban planning and economic development.