US tech giant Google, in collaboration with the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) and the government's Access to Information (a2i), has recently deployed a flood forecasting initiative to keep people safe and informed about the natural disaster in Bangladesh.
Through the service, Google provides people with numerous alerts, containing timely, updated, and critical information, in impacted regions across Bangladesh to help them make informed decisions on the safety of their families and friends.
Any user in the affected region with an Android smartphone with location services enabled will receive these alerts, said a press release issued yesterday.
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.
Md Arifuzzaman Bhuyan, executive engineer, BWDB's Flood Forecasting and Warning Center, said more than one-third of the country was under water this year, 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 joint flood forecasting initiative paved the way to overcome this challenge and launch the inundation modelling system along the Jamuna-Padma river belt in 14 districts using advanced technology, he also said.
Anir Chowdhury, policy advisor at the a2i Programme, said, "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 programme, a2i is planning to deepen the work with Google and BWDB to extend the system to the lowest tier of local government, he added.
For all the progress that Google has made with alert technology, there are still a lot of challenges that the organization needs to overcome. 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, read the release.
Along with its partners, Google will continue to develop, maintain, and improve technologies and digital tools to protect communities and save lives, it added.