Ibrahim Demir of the Iowa Flood Center (IFC) at the University of Iowa (UI) has been awarded a grant from Microsoft as part of its “AI for Earth” program. Dr. Demir is an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering who also leads the Hydroinformatics Lab at the University of Iowa. He will use the award to develop “Flood AI,” an artificial intelligence system that serves as a virtual flood expert (similar to Siri). Flood AI is accessible through many smart devices, including smartphones, chat applications such as Skype, smart home devices, and more. Users can ask Flood AI any flood or weather related question and get a quick answer.
It’s like talking to a friend who happens to be a flood expert, Demir says.
AI for Earth is a Microsoft program aimed at empowering people and organizations to solve global environmental challenges by increasing access to AI tools and educational opportunities, while accelerating innovation. Via the Azure for Research AI for Earth award program, Microsoft provides selected researchers and organizations access to its cloud and AI computing resources to accelerate, improve, and expand work on climate change, agriculture, biodiversity, and/or water challenges.
Demir is among the first recipients of AI for Earth, which launched in July 2017 after a competitive and selective grant process. Microsoft awarded the grants in recognition of the potential of the work and power of AI to accelerate progress.
“Ibrahim’s work is part of the foundation of the Iowa Flood Center’s service to Iowans,” says IFC Director Witold Krajewski. “He is the chief architect of the Iowa Flood Information System, which puts the IFC’s innovative flood-related tools and information in the hands of all Iowans.”
The Iowa Flood Center is based at IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering, a UI research institute focused on fluids engineering. IIHR Interim Director Gabriele Villarini says Demir’s work is on the cutting edge of hydroinformatics — the art and science of providing data and information directly to users through online systems. “Ibrahim continues to break new ground,” Villarini says. “His work directly serves Iowans by providing the real-time information they need to make informed decisions when flooding occurs.”
When flood events happen, people need information — no matter what the time of day or night. Demir says that Flood AI—available 24 hours a day—will be like talking to a friend who happens to be an expert on flooding. Flood AI will support the Iowa Flood Center’s mission to provide flood-related information and technology that is immediately useful to Iowans.
To date, Microsoft has distributed more than 35 grants to qualifying researchers and organizations around the world. Today, Microsoft announced its intent to put $50 million over five years into the program, enabling grant-making and educational training at a much larger scale.
More information about AI for Earth can be found on the website: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/aiforearth
The Iowa Flood Center’s stream monitoring network is gaining interest across the country.
Through a partnership with Riverside Technology Inc., the Iowa Flood Center received funding and support to deploy a stream stage sensor on the Poudre River in Colorado. The sensor has been deployed as part of a pilot project to improve flood awareness and prediction capabilities.
Read the full story by the Coloradoan, here.
By Mikael Mulugeta
A new Iowa Flood Information System (IFIS) service now available will change how Iowans receive important flooding alerts.
The new automated alert feature, accessible from the front page of IFIS, allows users to receive IFIS alerts via text message, phone call, or social media when sensors record certain flood levels. Users can select an IFIS sensor of interest, define the criteria for an alert, and then choose a corresponding action.
For example, users can select a sensor in Cedar Rapids and set 15 feet as the minimum stage height to trigger an alert; and have IFIS text parents or other family members a customized message alerting them of the flood warning.
IFIS integration with the IFTTT (If This Then That) website, an automated workflow system, makes this feature possible. Users can set up alerts by following instructions on the IFIS page, setting their conditions and corresponding actions, and then logging on to IFTTT through Google or Facebook accounts to complete the sign up. Find instructions on setting up the automated feature, here.
In addition to smartphones, tablets, and desktops, IFIS can also send alerts to smart devices, such as GE home appliances.
Currently, users can only set alerts to exact values, such as 20 feet of flooding or higher. Moving forward, Iowa Flood Center researchers plan to add categorical flood levels, so alerts will activate if sensors detect “major” or “minor” flooding.
Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with those impacted by the devastating floods caused by Hurricane Harvey.
Iowans remember the 2008 floods that wreaked havoc across our state. Through the chaos, we came together and built back a more resilient Iowa.
Iowa Flood Center experts reflect on the extreme flooding in Texas:
IFC Director Witold Krajewski compares Harvey flooding scenarios to Des Moines. View his interview with ABC Channel 5.
IFC Associate Director Nathan Young compares Iowa’s 2008 flood experience with that of the flooding in Texas. View his interview with KWWL-TV.
IFC Director Witold Krajewski describes the flooding in Texas as it relates to the 2008 catastrophic flood event in Iowa. View his interview with KFXA/KGAN-TV.
IFC climate research expert Gabriele Villarini offers some perspective on the flooding in Houston,Texas in response to Hurricane Harvey. View the interview with KCRG-TV.
Iowa Flood Center
The University of Iowa
100 Stanley Hydraulics Laboratory
Iowa City, IA 52242
Contact: Breanna Shea