For several years, the Google Flood Forecasting Initiative has been working with governments to develop systems that predict when and where flooding will occur—and keep people safe and informed. Google has recently partnered with the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) and the Access to Information (a2i) Programme to bring the Google Flood Forecasting Initiative to Bangladesh, which experiences more flooding than any other country in the world.
Google currently covers more than 40 million people in Bangladesh, and has been working to extend the flood forecasting to the whole country. To date, they have sent out almost 1 million notifications to people in flood-affected areas across the country.
On this occasion, Md. Arifuzzaman Bhuyan, Executive Engineer, Flood Forecasting and Warning Center, Bangladesh Water Development Board, said, “Floods have affected Bangladesh for many years, devastating the lives of people around the country. This year, more than one-third of the country was under water, and more than 5 million people were severely affected by this national disaster. In this regard, flood forecasting has been proved as an effective flood mitigation measure for Bangladesh. The BWDB-a2i-Google joint flood forecasting initiative paved the way to overcome this challenge and launch the inundation modeling system along the Jamuna-Padma river belt in 14 districts using advanced technology. I’m happy to see how our partnership has helped people across Bangladesh so far, and I look forward to how we can work with Google to improve and protect more lives from floods in the future.”
Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor, a2i Programme, People’s Republic of Bangladesh, added, “Based on the very promising preliminary results, we are excited about the system’s potential for dramatically improving forecasting in this flood-prone country. As the Bangladesh government’s flagship digital transformation program, a2i is planning to deepen the work with Google and BWDB to extend the system to the lowest tier of local government.”
For all the progress that Google has made with alert technology, there are still a lot of challenges that the organization needs to overcome. COVID-19 has delayed critical infrastructure work, adding to the immense pressure on first responders and medical authorities, and disrupted the in-person networks that many people still rely on for advance notice when a flood is on the way.
There is much more work ahead to strengthen the systems that so many vulnerable people rely on—and expand them to reach more people in flood-affected areas. Along with its partners, Google will continue to develop, maintain, and improve technologies and digital tools to protect communities and save lives.
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