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Disruptive technologies as support for Natural Disasters


Antonio Filograna, ENGINEERING Ingegneria Informatica S.p.A.

Tuscany, Italy, known for its landscapes and rich historical heritage, recently bore the brunt of devastating floods, leaving communities in disarray in their wake. These calamitous events have once again underscored the critical need to address the escalating frequency and severity of natural disasters through innovative solutions. A key path forward involves harnessing the formidable power of technology through collaborative efforts between the public and private sectors, alongside research institutions. 

The recent deluge in Tuscany laid bare our planet's vulnerability to the capriciousness of nature. Torrential rainfall and overflowing rivers breached homes, disrupted transportation networks, and inflicted substantial environmental damage. In the face of such disasters, technology is not merely a luxury; it emerges as an indispensable lifeline. Natural Disaster Technologies have evolved into indispensable tools, equipping governments, emergency services, and communities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from these cataclysmic events. 

In this landscape of innovation, the TEMA (Trusted Extremely Precise Mapping and Prediction for Emergency Management) project emerges as a beacon of hope, poised to revolutionize our approach to Natural Disaster Management (NDM). What sets TEMA apart is its remarkable capacity to harness and synthesize diverse data sources, spanning smart drones, in-situ sensors, remote sensing data, topographical data, meteorological predictions, and geosocial media data. This comprehensive approach ensures a multifaceted understanding of the dynamics of a disaster. 

By effectively managing this wealth of data, TEMA endeavors to construct a meaningful, semantically annotated 3D disaster area map and predict the evolution of disasters with unparalleled precision. Moreover, TEMA places an emphasis on improving communication between disaster service providers and end-users through the automation of response triggers and recommendations. 

From a technical perspective one of TEMA's challenges is to ensure a prompt response by optimizing resources, using a cloud-edge continuum approach. With the increase in the number of connected devices, edge computing has started to gain traction in recent years. This is due to rapid data growth and the growing unsustainability of cloud-only models. The TEMA platform will be flexible and will be based on the containerization of its modules to run its services on the edge whenever possible, remodulating the deployment in the cloud when circumstances require it. 

To address these challenges, edge computing moves data processing and storage as close to the original source as possible. Therefore, edge computing is used to create content delivery networks that decentralize the distribution of data and services, bringing them closer to end users. The edge computing capabilities offered by the TEMA platform will enable distributed computing, storage and control at the edge. This approach aims to solve the problem of latency, reduce the necessary network bandwidth and reduce energy consumption while guaranteeing the practically unlimited resource reserve of cloud computing in all those cases where on-site resources are not sufficient. 

Based on this infrastructure, a series of AI tools will provide as efficiently as possible all the services needed to support all actors involved in the management of adverse events. Tools such as, recognition of people i danger during a fire, simulation of the progress of the fire front or the spread of flooded areas to identify which areas should be evacuated with the highest priority, etc. 

This enables decision-makers to make well-informed choices during a crisis, facilitated by the ability to evaluate diverse response strategies through dynamic simulations. 

The devastating floods in Tuscany serve as a poignant reminder of the imperative to adapt to the evolving climate and the heightened frequency of natural disasters. The integration of advanced technology into our disaster preparedness and response efforts is not just a choice; it's an imperative. It promises a safer and more resilient future, safeguarding the well-being of our communities and the enduring beauty of our regions. 

In these challenging times, technology offers a pathway towards a more resilient and adaptive world, better equipped to face the unpredictable forces of nature As communities in Tuscany continue to grapple with the aftermath of these floods, it's essential to look toward the future and consider innovative solutions for improving our response to such calamities and the TEMA project is a testament to human innovation's potential.