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Game Changers 2019 – Essay Series

Game Changers 2019 – Essay Series

Saving Lives and Livelihoods: How AI is changing the game for natural disasters and urban resilience

Ahmad Wani, Founder & CEO, OneConcern

Since 1970, the number of disasters worldwide has more than quadrupled to around 400 per year. In the last 40 years, natural disasters have caused more than 3.3 million deaths and $2.3 trillion in economic damages and the problem is only getting worse; 2017 was the second most expensive year for disasters on record, according to Munich Re.

For industrialized nations, climate change and extreme weather events have sharp, immediate, and observable impacts on a city’s infrastructure, economy, and environment. For industrializing nations, these issues exacerbate poverty and conflict creating food security issues, climate refugees, and terrorist breeding grounds.

Given the “spider web” of interconnectivity that now exists in cities and across regions, “down time” is no longer a relevant measure of economic losses. “Disruption time,” as measured through resilience functions rooted in science and data, is a more appropriate way to think about the true cost of business disruption caused by disasters; that’s the problem that we’re tackling at OneConcern.

Changing the Game
Urban development needs a radical change using solutions that reduce the impact that chronic stresses and acute shocks have on people of all races, religions, and socio-economic statuses. It’s at this nexus that OneConcern seeks to change the game and create an entirely new category for benevolent intelligence and lead the global market for resilience.

Our vision focuses on planetary-scale resilience where everyone lives in a safe, equitable, and sustainable world. Climate change and disasters know no boundaries. They don’t discriminate against age, race, economic status, or political affiliation. Equally, social inequity can only be solved when leaders are informed about the impact of data-driven policies. Long term, we envision a world where benevolent intelligence helps to level the playing field for all cities, integrating resiliency into the fabric of life.

To achieve our vision, we’ve developed an artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning-driven platform that predicts the impact of natural disasters – and their cascading effects – at a high resolution and a high degree of accuracy.

Behind OneConcern’s solution, each line of code is a fundamental invention across multiple disciplines of science and technology, including structural and earthquake engineering, fluid mechanics, atmospheric sciences, meteorological sciences, remote sensory, and dozens of others. Every prediction made at any point on the map is carefully validated across millions of data points using the power of thousands of distributed servers.

In 2019 and beyond, we will expand our efforts to bring new AI-enabled resilience solutions to communities across America and across the world. With the combined power of innovative technology like what we’re developing at One Concern and the forward-thinking leadership of our partners, I believe we are on the precipice of a truly game changing era for disasters and urban resilience. It is my hope that we look back on 2019 as the start of a movement to create true planetary-scale resilience.

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