Around the world, communities face fires, floods, famine and extreme weather events that are more frequent and more ferocious than ever before. Like governments across the globe, the U.S. government is grappling with these disasters as shifts in climate accelerate and expand.
Between 2018 and 2022, the U.S. experienced 90 weather and climate disasters with losses exceeding $1 billion each, resulting in 1,751 deaths and total cost of approximately $623 billion to the economy. In 2023 (as of November 9), there were 25 confirmed billion-dollar weather/climate disaster events, far exceeding the 1980–2022 annual average of 8.1 events and the most recent 5-year (2018–2022) annual average of 18.0 events.
It is impossible to forget the images of devastation from the Maui fires, the flooding from Hurricane Idalia and the hail stones in Minnesota in August 2023 alone.
These billion-dollar catastrophes, and the associated loss and damage demonstrate the severe impact that climate change is having on human health, and the financial well-being of the individuals, companies and governments impacted. To address these challenges, governments are looking to harness the power of data and apply emerging technologies as key enablers in the fight against climate change.
Making a difference
Let me share a few examples of where CGI is making a difference:
Delivering more precise climate data: In the United Kingdom, we are working with a global aerospace partner to define the Payload Data Ground System (PDGS) for the Traceable Underpinning Terrestrial and Helio-Studies (TRUTHS) satellite. TRUTHS is an important climate mission involving the UK Space Agency (UKSA) and delivered by the European Space Agency (ESA) to enable in-flight calibration of Earth Observation (EO) satellites. TRUTHS will help deliver improved confidence in Earth Observation data gathered from space and the critical forecasts driven by these data.
Leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to map and monitor the impact of wildfires: With climate change contributing to more frequent wildfires across the globe, better monitoring and analysis of burnt areas can help improve land management, and decrease the environmental and human costs. Working with ESA, we developed a new wildfire mapping service that combined recent advances in EO, AI and cloud computing to better identify the impact of wildfires. The AI-enabled wildfire mapping service has been made available to the wider environmental community through an online data portal that provides free access to a range of EO data, tools and services.
Flood prediction models powered by machine learning and AI: Here in the United States, CGI and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL) partnered on the Machine Learning-enabled Flood Forecasting Prototype project—a deep learning, data-driven flood forecasting system. Through a public-private partnership including CGI, ULL and the National Science Foundation Center for Visual and Decision Informatics, the consortium developed a prototype that delivers new insights by integrating space-based systems, ground radar, field sensors and even, social media data. As part of this effort, the team proved the ability to accurately predict levels of soil moisture using a deep learning model that analyzes variables such as precipitation, temperature, vegetation, plant canopy, surface water, and incoming long- and short-wave radiation. This aids in flood forecasting because soil moisture has very limited remotely-sensed and ground-based observations.
Public/private partnerships multiply effects
A key element of success in these examples is continued public/private partnership. Working together in collaborative models toward a common goal, governments, industry and academia can each bring their best to solve our more daunting challenges. I am excited by the promise of technology to address our more daunting climate change challenges. Clearly, getting ahead of disasters and their aftermath is critical to protect lives, livelihoods and the environment. Informed by high-quality integrated data and advanced analytical models, governments can move swiftly to incorporate appropriate measures into climate adaptation and implementation plans, and design responses to reduce impacts when disasters do inevitably occur.
Learn more about what CGI is doing globally to demonstrate our environmental commitment and how we are using the power of integrated data and advanced analytics to create a safer and more sustainable world every day.
Back to top