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Field-level insights from developing and deploying AI-driven system for disaster early warning in Timor-Leste

In January 2020, Mercy Corps Team envisioned and initiated a collaborative pilot project with Similie to strengthen the development of an early warning system for Timor-Leste.

Field-level insights from developing and deploying AI-driven system for disaster early warning in Timor-Leste
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About this Report
In January 2020, Mercy Corps Team envisioned and initiated a collaborative pilot project with Similie to strengthen the development of an early warning system for Timor-Leste. The goal of the project is to deploy and test state-of-the-art artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm to improve thresholds for alerts that can support Timor-Leste communities to prepare for and respond to the impacts of natural disasters. Leveraging the existing warning system, the project team envisioned a co-installation of hardware sensors to generate additional data flow that can support the selection of optimal parameters and threshold settings for early warning system alerts. The AI-based system (and technology) is expected to disrupt and empower disaster risk reduction practitioners to address the spatial and temporal paucity of historical data and poor representation of downscaled global models for early warning systems.

This report details the experience and learning from the project implementation that may be relevant for other agencies or stakeholders who are interested in developing relevant solutions for early warning on flooding disasters in fragile environments.

About the Author
Julius Adewopo is an Emerging Technology Advisor within the Technology for Development (T4D) Team, and possesses multi-disciplinary background in agricultural research, digital tool development, and geospatial analytics. He earned his Ph.D. in Soil and Water Science from the University of Florida (UF) in 2014, and he has worked as a Geodata Scientist at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) in Nigeria and Rwanda. In the past 9 years, he has led several projects and initiatives, mainly focused on delivery of digital tools and analytics for decision-support in smallholder agricultural systems, including smart ICT surveillance system for banana disease in East Africa, [near-]real-time crowdsourcing of food prices, and bridging of ground-based weather data gap in Nigeria. His interest includes strategic deployment of digital tools and targeting of innovations to improve livelihoods of vulnerable/marginalized people across diverse geographies.

About Mercy Corps
Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within.
Now, and for the future.

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