Mitigating the impact of climate change and natural disasters with technology | HCLTech

Mitigating the impact of climate change and natural disasters with technology

With record-breaking heatwaves and unprecedented flooding, it’s time to turn to technology to mitigate the impact of these natural threats
6 minutes read
Jaydeep Saha
Jaydeep Saha
Global Reporter, HCLTech
6 minutes read
Mitigating the impact of climate change and natural disasters with technology

Across the globe, countries are experiencing record-breaking temperatures. These heatwaves have led to a tragic loss of life and are also disrupting sectors, such as tourism. In Greece, for example, the country shut down the historic Acropolis site to protect tourists from soaring temperatures.

India has also been experiencing unprecedented flooding due to exceptionally heavy monsoon rains. The Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) has witnessed particularly bad flooding conditions and authorities have had a challenging time with the rescue and relief operations since the beginning of July.

The rainfall has also led to fatal and horrific landslides, bridges over rivers disappearing in seconds, cars getting washed away and house collapsing.

Worldwide, these natural disasters that include forest fires in Canada, earthquakes in Turkey and Syria and heatwaves across the globe, are increasing dramatically. However, leading technologies can play a big part in minimizing the impact.

Big data analytics: Analytics is the aggregation and examination of data, including personal and medical data and the geolocation of roads, from many sources to derive insights and track survivors during disasters.

Cloud and AI: In a time of crisis, cloud gives the ability to provide on-demand access to computing resources and storage. Coupled with AI—that automates and optimizes tasks—scientists can process and interpret extreme weather conditions like Google’s flood forecasting initiative in 2021 when alerts were sent out to 23 million people. Even Experts at Cornell University used machine learning to better forecast ‘slow-slip earthquakes’—a type of tectonic motion of much lower intensity that can last for hours or days.

5G network: 5G is the latest in cellular technology that provides high speed and low latency to improve the efficiency and productivity of a connected device. Swedish giant Ericsson is working with a Chinese company to use 5G in disaster management, including accurate disaster prediction, visible disaster occurrence, shared data silos, coordinated emergency command and timely evacuation.

Drones: One of the most impactful technologies during disasters, like an earthquake, an uncontrollable forest-fire or flood, these unmanned aerial vehicles give a 360° view footage from the site of the disaster and provide medical aid and logistics to victims before rescuers reach them.

Digital twin: A digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical object or process and the software that connects both shares real-time data related to the physical form. While transport departments of Los Angeles and Yorkshire have used it for easy movement of traffic, Shanghai and Singapore have their own digital twins that helps authorities to plan and react to emergency situations that include the effects of natural disasters.

Internet of Things (IoT): The availability of real-time information along with real-time analytics helps in planning for prevention and response to disasters. With access to sensors, high-speed connectivity, cloud computing platforms, ML and analytics and conversational AI, IoT offers disruptive potential in the prevention, preparation, response and recovery phases of disaster management.

Remote sensors: Remote sensors provide real-time data that is useful—mainly in unmanned areas that includes the walls of a huge dam—to send out alerts before and during catastrophes, like floods, earthquakes and forest fires. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Remote Sensing and Geographic Information System (GIS) website gives an understanding of the scientific concepts and an overview of atmospheric and oceanic hazards and the participants gain the ability to access, analyze and apply satellite remote-sensing data for atmospheric and oceanic disasters.

LEO satellites: Billions of dollars are now being invested in new-gen Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites that orbit at a low altitude and better connect remote and inaccessible regions. Uncovered and vulnerable to communications disruptions caused by natural disasters, these satellites provide the terrestrial infrastructure giving internet access to almost 2.4 billion people in dark areas. Low-orbit satellites, like Starlink and OneWeb, will be able to bring connectivity to areas that have been previously unable to access the internet.

Sound waves: A revolution in firefighting—without the use of water or chemicals—was introduced by undergraduate engineering students Seth Robertson and Viet Tran at George Mason University in the US in 2015. The founders of Force SV said the acoustic fire suppression technology douse multiple types of fires, protect people and equipment from harmful chemicals and can be applied to automated systems, ensuring fire personnel safety.

DevOps: During the 2018 unexpected flood in India, the Kerala State IT Mission developed and deployed a crisis management system within 12 hours. Technology resources from across the globe volunteered to code, review and recode to enhance the functionality of the platform using DevOps.

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