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Microsoft, Energy Dept. to Develop Disaster-Response AI Tools


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Grain bins crumpled by severe windstorms in Luther, IA.

The U.S. Department of Energy has partnered with Microsoft to develop artificial intelligence tools to help first responders better react to fast-changing natural disasters such as floods and wildfires.

Credit: Daniel Acker/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Microsoft on Tuesday announced a partnership to develop artificial intelligence (AI) tools to improve first-responders' capabilities with regard to natural disasters.

The First Five Consortium hopes to construct between 10 and 30 AI systems, with DOE heading development and testing, and Microsoft offering resources like its Azure cloud for AI model training and inference.

The consortium will use the Azure cloud to store data like images of past wildfires, while pre-trained AI models will conduct object detection and similar tasks.

An initial prototype should be ready for testing this fall, and the longer-term goal is to create AI systems to help preserve lives, property, and resources.

Tools for mapping and predicting fire lines and floods are under development.

Microsoft's Susie Adams said AI analyzes vast, disparate datasets in real time to help first responders better allocate resources or alert the public.

From The Wall Street Journal
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