Singapore, U.S. partner on artificial intelligence for disaster response

Singapore, U.S. partner on artificial intelligence for disaster response


Singapore and the United States will team up to develop artificial intelligence (AI) tools for humanitarian aid and disaster relief (HADR), the U.S. Department of Defense announced in late June 2019.

“The Asia-Pacific is prone to natural disasters, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, tropical cyclones, flooding, landslides and volcanic eruptions that affect millions of people every year. Responses to these disasters often involve many organizations and multiple countries,” a Department of Defense (DOD) announcement read. “These missions challenge the community to advance the state of AI and learn how to operationalize and integrate technologies across international organizations. With AI-enabled HADR, the first responders and rescuers can better serve in those disaster-affected areas.”

The first phase of the partnership between the DOD’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center and Singapore’s Defence Science and Technology Agency will focus on reducing search and rescue times and enhancing defense operations through AI, according to FedScoop, a group that collaborates with federal agencies and academia to develop ways technology can improve government operations. The use of AI will offer more informed and timely resourcing decisions, according to the DOD.

“In turn, more effective rescue and relief operations can be conducted during times of crisis when every moment counts,” a DOD statement said.

AI for HADR represents just the first step for the two organizations to share ideas and knowledge in an effort to push new, innovative AI-enabled applications across government and military operations, the DOD said.

Although this exchange primarily focused on HADR, the DOD said that “the two organizations also discussed possible future partnerships between the United States and Singapore to use AI in a variety of other areas of mutual interest.”

DOD’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center is also accepting innovative technology ideas from select private sector companies. Ideas are to be submitted by the end of July 2019 on topics such as autonomous cyber defense, social media and dark web analysis and other AI-related initiatives.

(Pictured: Staff members work at Singapore’s Changi Regional Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Coordination Centre, a hub for the military to coordinate first-response efforts when disaster strikes in the Southeast Asia region.)