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Microsoft Wants Cloud Computing To Redefine Natural Disaster Modelling

Microsoft has decided to enter the notoriously challenging field of weather forecasting. Through its AI for Earth program, Microsoft is compiling a series of offerings into what it dubs a “planetary computer.” These offerings include APIs to identify objects as well as species of plants and animals.

AI for Earth program provides grants for scientists and others to use Azure in their own research and modeling. The program joins other Microsoft cloud initiatives such as AI for Health and AI for Accessibility.

“The goal is to have a planetary computer to help everyone manage earth’s ecosystems since that is the only way to be efficient when disaster happens,” Bruno Sánchez-Andrade Nuño, program director of the project, said. While the program is focused on “reduction, response, and recovery,” it is the response stage that gets most interesting as decisions have to be made as quickly as possible. “AI doesn’t need as much data as a lot of people think,” he said. “There has been a lot of progress with retraining algorithms … [and] we do a lot of work to onboard people to understand AI and how you can build an extremely efficient deep learning [model].”

The AI for Earth program recently signed a partnership with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center to enhance the coastal monitoring system of the agency.

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