Google on Tuesday, May 23, 2023, announced the expansion of its Flood Hub platform to cover 80 countries worldwide, adding eight new countries in Africa.
Yossi Mattias, Vice President Engineering & Research and Crisis Response Lead, said in a statement that 23 African countries were on its Flood Hub.
Mattias said this expansion came as part of Artificial Intelligence enabled efforts to address the devastating impacts of floods and provide critical support to vulnerable communities.
He said the Flood Hub platform now offers forecasts up to seven days in advance, benefitting a population of 460 million people globally.
According to him, this expansion aims to empower more people to take necessary precautions and safeguard lives and property.
“We recognise the significant impact that floods have on communities worldwide, especially in regions with limited resources and vulnerable populations.
“We are committed to expanding the reach of the Flood Hub platform to support these communities and provide accurate flood forecasting that can help save lives and protect livelihoods.
‘’This expansion extends the reach of Flood Hub’s valuable services to countries such as Brazil, Nigeria, Pakistan and Thailand,” he said.
He explained that prior to this expansion, the Flood Hub platform had been available in several African countries such as Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad and Democratic Republic of Congo.
Others are: Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and South Africa.
He said with the expansion, the Flood Hub platform encompassed 60 additional countries.
Mattias said the new countries included Burundi, Eswatini, Guinea Bissau, Lesotho, Madagascar, Rwanda, Senegal, and Zimbabwe.
According to him, the inclusion of these countries ensures that a broader range of African communities facing high flood risk and extreme weather conditions can benefit from Flood Hub’s accurate and timely flood forecasting services.
He said floods claimed tens of thousands of lives and caused billions of dollars in damages each year across the world.
The vice president said the impact of the damage was particularly severe in low-resource regions that often lacked effective early warning systems.
He said by equipping governments, aid organisations and individuals with advanced flood forecasting tools, Flood Hub empowered communities to take proactive measures and make informed decisions to reduce the devastating effects of floods.
Mattias said to further enhance flood preparedness, Google was expanding flood alerts through search and maps notifications, ensuring that individuals had convenient access to timely and critical flood information.
He said since 2019, non-profit organisations had been working with Google.org to establish offline alerting networks, acknowledging the limited access to cell phones or the internet in some communities.
According to him, these networks are designed to leverage trained and trusted community volunteers who play a crucial role in amplifying the reach of Flood Hub’s warnings.
Mattias said as a result, even individuals without digital connectivity were able to receive life-saving flood alerts to ensure their safety during times of crisis.
By Stellamaris Ashinze