Natural Disaster Crises? Technology May be the Answer

Whether it be a tornado, tsunami, earthquake, monsoon, hurricane, flood, or any other natural phenomena, no one person can be fully prepared for the aftermath of such disasters. Even with around-the-clock efforts from dedicated responders, disaster victims most always outnumber the help that is available to them, fostering a sense of unfair importance for which victims are priority versus those who can hold out just a little longer. Luckily, One Concern, Inc.—a startup that earned a coveted spot on GovTech100, the top 100 companies focused on government customers—aims to be one of the first to utilize artificial intelligence to save lives through analytical disaster assessment and calculated damage estimates.

The idea of One Concern was born from CEO and co-founder, Ahmad Wani, whose hometown of Kashmir, India is located in a region that is especially prone to earthquakes and floods. In 2005, Kashmir was hit by an earthquake that took the lives of 70,000 people—one of two disasters that inspired Wani to pursue his graduate level studies in earthquake engineering research at Stanford University. On another occasion in 2014, a large flood engulfed the state of Kashmir while Wani was visiting his parents—a disaster that left eighty percent of Kashmir underwater in a few short minutes. According to Wani, people had to resort to camping out on their rooftops for up to a week without food and clean water while waiting for uncertain rescue by ad hoc response teams.

The infographic below demonstrates the detrimental impact that various natural disasters have on communities in which they occur:

Although Wani is cognizant that his experiences occurred in a developing country, people in both developing and developed countries experience the same difficulty and chaos in the event of a natural disaster. Wani is trying to us his experiences to solve the problem of post-disaster reconnaissance and rescue through artificial intelligence with the intent of saving lives and strengthening communities. Indeed, by using their core product and web platform, “Seismic Concern,” the company is able to alert those located in jurisdictions affected by an earthquake by displaying a color-coded map of the likely structural damage as well as alerting emergency operation centers, which allows them to allocate their limited resources to rescue and recovery. Seismic Concern not only fosters response prioritization, but also recovery operations such as material staging and shelter management by compiling an Initial Damage Estimate (IDE), which is critical for emergency operation centers to request financial assistance from state and federal level institutions.

Furthermore, One Concern is using state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms, stochastic modeling, training modules, as well as geophysical and seismological research to enable emergency operation centers to train based on actual earthquake simulations before an actual earthquake strikes. According to One Concern, this can aid in personnel readiness and planning development, thus making a community more proactive and resilient.

For now, One Concern is relatively unknown to cities and countries that may be interested in adopting the revolutionary technology in which it specializes. Fortunately, Wani’s company is in the business of being ready and able to respond to anything at any time—an industry that spans the globe. By empowering rescuers and first responders with such valuable resources in times of crisis, they will be equipped with the resources necessary to save lives.