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3 Ways Customer Experience Technologies Are Changing the Way We Prepare for Hurricanes

Benjamin Hunting
September 25, 2018

3 minute read

The reach of customer experience technology continues to expand, and one of the areas where it shows growth is in helping governments, first responders, and citizens deal with natural disasters.

Here are 3 ways CX technologies intervene before, during, and after a major storm.

Using AI to predict and model flooding

While wind speed might grab headlines, the longest-lasting, and farthest-reaching type of damage done by a hurricane has to do with the flooding caused by its rainfall and storm surge – the rise in sea level associated with its approach as it nears landfall.

Predicting where the highest water levels will occur, and how long they’ll stay above normal, can go a long way when planning evacuations and rescues, and it also assists insurance companies and city planners in evaluating which areas are safe for building. By using machine learning, organizations such as One Concern have been able to take past flooding data, which directly informs the susceptibility of a region in future storms, merge it with information about an existing storm, and provide not just blanket flood warnings but discrete ‘block-by-block’ predictions as early as five days in advance.

“We can run various scenarios in the days before a storm arrives and understand when and how systems would fail,” former FEMA chief and current One Concern exec Craig Fugate told Scientific American. “Using AI lowers the threshold to do the ‘what-ifs.'”

Assessing damage in real-time

Large government fleets and asset collections – including vehicles, boats, and other equipment – are increasingly connected using various IoT and related technologies in order to improve inventory management. This interconnected customer experience technology has also proven to be a valuable tool for evaluating the level of damage done by a natural disaster, both during and after the fact.

The Department of Homeland Security has been leading this particular effort with its Consolidated Asset Portfolio and Sustainability Information System (CAPSIS), which makes use of data provided not just by DHS supply management employees but also IoT systems. Streaming CAPSIS data has been used by emergency response personnel during hurricanes in both Texas and Puerto Rico as a tool for measuring the impact of a storm without having to wait for an after-the-fact analysis. This can help pinpoint which areas have been hit hardest and direct operations accordingly.

Helping rescue and search efforts

In addition to leveraging hashtags on Twitter in an effort to locate victims trapped in their homes by water and wind, rescuers and those affected by hurricanes alike have turned to apps like Zello, which transforms mobile devices into walkie-talkies that can transmit not just voice, but also images on a common channel shared by responders. Zello has proven its real-world utility in coordinating citizen-led hurricane rescue initiatives such as the flotilla of boats dubbed the ‘Cajun Navy‘ on the Louisiana coast.

Benjamin Hunting
Benjamin Hunting
Benjamin Hunting has covered science, medicine, and technology for a wide range of publications, and has also been published in the Journal of Medical Economics. He coded his first computer program at the age of 8 on a Commodore VIC-20 and still has the audio cassette he saved it on hanging around somewhere in his office.
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