UN agency promotes use of AI in natural disaster management

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GENEVA, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on Tuesday said that it will help its member countries contend with the "increasing prevalence and severity" of natural disasters with the help of artificial intelligence (AI).

The United Nations (UN) agency said in a press release that in cooperation with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), it has launched the ITU Focus Group on "AI for natural disaster management."

Natural disasters took a heavy toll between 2005 and 2015, impacting 1.5 billion people, killing 700,000 and leaving 23 million homeless, according to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, which was developed by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR).

AI could prove useful "to save countless numbers of lives," said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.

"This new Focus Group is the latest ITU initiative to ensure that AI fulfills its extraordinary potential to accelerate the innovation required to address the greatest challenges facing humanity," he said.

The ITU also said that its Focus Group will pay special attention to vulnerable regions and countries more prone to natural disasters, "notably small islands, developing states and low-income countries."

The ITU Focus Group will hold its first meeting on March 15-17. Enditem

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