New Delhi: Ten innovators from across the world have won the TechEmerge Resilience India Challenge for their cutting-edge technology solutions in dealing with the twin challenges of immediate disaster response in the time of COVID-19 and building long-term disaster and climate resilience.
The challenge was organized by the World Bank Group, in partnership with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and CES (Consumer Electronics Show).
The winners will receive World Bank grant funding from a pool of US$1 million, supported by the UK Government and free Cloud Credits from IBM. The top innovators recently showcased their solutions at CES2021, the world’s largest consumer technology event.
The challenge has garnered solutions spanning the most cutting-edge technologies – ranging from Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled robots; to rebuilding homes; to unified networks for connectivity restoration –all aimed at meeting the needs of some of the most disaster vulnerable coastal and hilly states of India like Uttarakhand, Himachal, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. These solutions will be implemented in collaboration with the respective State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMA) to make disaster and climate risk management smarter, more efficient, affordable and accurate.
Success in these states could open the floodgates to a series of transformative, scalable, affordable and accessible resilient technology solutions.
Amongst the winners, US-based Project Owl, will deploy an innovative unified network infrastructure in the air, land or water to provide connectivity in remote and disaster affected areas. Israel based Seismic AI will provide end-to-end service for Earthquake Early Warning, powered by artificial intelligence using real-time seismic algorithms to estimate the magnitude and expected ground shaking at any location. Build Change will deploy its AI and 3D modelling-based solution to assess damage to buildings for retrofitting and recovery and will help improve resilient construction practices. The Dutch firm Nelen & Schuurmans’ AI-based flood forecasting system and simulation will allow planners to visualize and interact with water flows, simulate rain, storms, break levees, etc. India’s Pragathi Foundation will be deploying Wifi based 2-way local radio to boost information access to rural communities in remote, signal dark and disaster vulnerable areas. Other solutions include fully customizable and rugged drones for disaster preparedness and response, autonomous rescue buoys with robotic probes to save lives at sea.
The multi-stage evaluation process involved reviewing over 300 innovative solutions from across the globe, by subject matter experts and independent jurors on specific criteria vis-à-vis the State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs), who are the end users. The criteria included; demonstrated technology, ability to execute, fit to needs, and innovation, to name a few.
The implementation of the pilots will be undertaken by the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), under the World Bank’s Climate Adaptation and Resilience for South Asia Project (CARE).