How AI can help after disaster

On March 11, 2011, one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded shook the northeastern coast of Japan, causing a tsunami that killed nearly 20,000 people. More than 2,000 remain missing. The Tohoku region outside of Tokyo was hit especially hard, forcing the local community to completely rethink how it responds to future disasters. With the help of a grant from Microsoft’s AI for Earth program, researchers like Bai Yanbing of Tohoku University are attempting to harness the power of artificial intelligence solutions to improve mapping technology so that relief workers might stand a better chance of saving more lives when the next earthquake hits. “Japan is very much earthquake country,” warns Professor Jun Murai of Keio University. “So the resiliency and readiness for the next one is very much a part of our life. The new challenge is to utilize the data and then to understand the way to recover from the disaster.”

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