I wrote recently about the potential value of artificial intelligence (AI) to help governments better manage natural disasters. And here, right on cue, is the announcement that Microsoft is teaming with the Dept of Energy to build AI-based tools to help prevent and manage natural disasters.
They will work on predictive technology to help anticipate wildfires, manage fire lines, assess overall damage, and assist with search and rescue. Along with COVID vaccination research, contact tracing, and economic mitigation, this could be the next major area of government that sees substantial improvement in operations from widespread adoption of AI.
The partnership between Microsoft and the DOE makes sense: Microsoft has the tools and infrastructure to help churn through vast amounts of data, and the DOE desperately needs better ways to prepare for impending disasters. After all, California and western US states are currently facing another season of wildfires. Iowa is still recovering from a massive wind storm, and last year almost 14 million people throughout the Midwest and South were hit with heavy flooding.