Using Artificial Intelligence to Predict Natural Disasters

Published Mar-23-19

A system that uses artificial intelligence to detect and monitor early warning signs for natural disasters.

The Government of Singapore, Singapore

The Story:

 Using Artificial Intelligence to Predict Natural Disasters Brilliant ideas can come from anywhere, anyone and at any time. One of the reasons why hackathons are so successful is that many ideas often don’t see the light of idea. But bring a lot of bright and enthusiastic minds in multiple disciplines together under one roof and exciting things can happen. Hackathons can present countless ideas to companies and organizations to improve their services, create new products, improve existing ones and solve pressing issues.

Solving Problems with AI

The theme of Code::XtremeApps (CXA) 2018, a government-run hackathon in Singapore was “Changing Our World with AI”. Participants were challenged to leverage artificial intelligence to solve real problems and improve lives. This was the 12th edition of the contest, Singapore’s longest-running annual hackathon.

The 24-hour hackathon had three main categories: junior, senior and open, which was for all ages. More than 300 people took part forming 122 teams. They were presented with a number of challenge statements that were focused on areas such as public health and safety, spotting fake news and AI-empowered applications to assist and improve daily lives in education, healthcare, environment, personal help and the home.

Solutions were judged on how well the challenge statements were addressed, their technical features and the potential impact to end-users.

Life-Saving Innovation

The winner of the open category was a team of students from Singapore Polytechnic for a concept called Artificial Idiot. It can help public safety agencies detect and monitor early warning signs of natural disasters. Among its features is an image database that has been trained on artificial intelligence to identify cracks in buildings and road potholes.

The team was also awarded a Special Prize by Motorola Solutions for demonstrating how their project supports the company's future vision of creating safer cities and thriving industries.

“We want the next generation of students and developers thinking about the technology needs of first responders and frontline workers and applying their skills in new ways to address those needs,” said Motorola Solutions Chief Technology Officer Paul Steinberg.

“Supporting talent development at the grassroots level and co-creating new solutions in partnership with our customers also reflects our company’s vision to create safer cities and thriving industries for the future.”


In addition to picking up several thousand dollars in prize money, the winning team was invited to Motorola’s headquarters in Chicago where they saw a series of demonstrations of the application of innovation to public safety environments. This included looking at solutions that combine AI with natural language processing software to provide critical intelligence to field workers.

This first-hand experience of cutting-edge technology provided a lot of food for thought. “It has been a mind-blowing experience learning what innovation looks like inside a large company,” commented winning team member Jeffrey Lau. Although we have much to learn and more work ahead to develop our solution concept, we leave Chicago with new ideas and optimism about the work we can do in the future.”

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