London: Scientists are combining Twitter, citizen science and cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to develop an early-warning system for flood-prone communities. Researchers from the University of Dundee in the UK have shown how AI can be used to extract data from Twitter and crowdsourced information from mobile phone apps to build up hyper-resolution monitoring of urban flooding.

Urban flooding is difficult to monitor due to complexities in data collection and processing. This prevents detailed risk analysis, flooding control, and the validation of numerical models.

Researchers set about trying to solve this problem by exploring how the latest AI technology can be used to mine social media and apps for the data that users provide. They found that social media and crowdsourcing can be used to complement datasets based on traditional remote sensing and witness reports.

Applying these methods in case studies, they found these methods to be genuinely informative and that AI can play a key role in future flood warning and monitoring systems. “Sea levels have been rising at an average rate of 3.4mm a year over the past decade. The extremes of today will become the average of the future so coastal cities and countries must take action to protect their land,” Wang said.

“We were particularly interested in the increased incidence of what we call sunny day flooding – flooding that occurs in the absence of any extreme weather event due to the mean sea level being higher,” he said. “A tweet can be very informative in terms of flooding data. Read more from…

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