Technology: Villain or savior in the face of climate change?

Some time ago, some of Infobip's regional leaders met in our office in Bogotá to discuss various innovations and business strategies, and from the window of our conference room we could see how a grim picture was framed: our eastern mountains burning, prisoners. The raging forest fire gave no respite. In the midst of the conflict between PowerPoint presentations and the heavy smell of smoke, I understood – once again – that no one is truly untouchable in the face of nature, regardless of our privileges.

In the heat of the moment—literary and metaphorical—the news and contrasting images of reckless people starting fires and heroic firemen putting them out, minds were torn between denial and affection for the human race. Undoubtedly, that climate disaster left us on a path with two possible paths: complaint or action.

Consistent life-saving technology

In recent years, climate change has become a kind of horror movie in which the villain is our excessive consumption of technology — yes, of course, on a large scale. We can choose to complain or abandon the victim position to follow a new narrative to resign ourselves to the dark and cold nature we've created around technology. Not for nothing, companies around the world are using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to seek help in managing and preventing various types of natural disasters.

Predictive analysis is in progress

We learn from mistakes, and in this sense, today's AI allows researchers and scientists to study patterns of past seismic activity, use weather data and histories, for example, to warn of potential hurricanes or earthquakes. In addition, AI is capable of predicting the economic and human impact of many of these natural disasters by processing large amounts of data from specific regions or populations to develop comprehensive action and prevention plans and allocate resources in an informed manner.

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Amidst this worrying panorama, SMS has been positioned as the most reliable channel to prevent emergency incidents as it is compatible with most mobile devices and does not require an internet connection. Due to the above, Infobip's important clients like the Government of Mexico have availed this service to us for timely and quick generation of seismic alarms via SMS.

Data driven management

When large-scale natural disasters occur, AI is capable of managing and analyzing large amounts of data, thereby preventing critical information from being lost in the hands of compromised emergency numbers (e.g. 911). In addition to improving communication between different aid agencies and guiding decision-making by frontline humanitarian workers, AI and machine learning can help speed up aid to affected people and places.

For its part, having AI chatbots makes it possible to educate citizens about environmental and prevention issues, and more importantly, to share information that can save lives. In this sense, bots will allow relief agencies to quickly contact victims to help them. In addition, the use of chatbots allows you to quickly access government information, refute fake news that spreads confusion and fear, answer frequently asked questions, and send updates in real-time using push notifications.

Post-traumatic care

After experiencing an earthquake, who doesn't feel like everything is moving, days or weeks? This is known as 'phantom tremor' and, like other post-traumatic symptoms derived from natural disasters, it should be taken into account by various public health agencies.

Regarding mental health care, conversational applications toward the field of psychology can serve as allies when dealing with the anxiety and stress of those who have experienced traumatic events and who may not have adequate resources to experience comprehensive treatments and therapies.

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Rewriting the technical script

Not just natural disasters, but testing our social and empathic use of various technological tools; Indeed, each unfortunate event can be a bittersweet opportunity to redefine and rewrite the role immediacy plays in the midst of uncertainty.

To model a button. Faced with the sudden appearance of Covid-19, Redes da Maré (a non-governmental organization that seeks to implement general social inclusion policies in the favelas of Maré in Rio de Janeiro) designed its “Maré Says No to Coronavirus” campaign. Through this initiative and the use of the WhatsApp chatbot provided by Infobip's responses, the campaign was able to distribute food to more than 70 thousand people affected by an epidemic. Many – not to mention all.

Villain or savior? It's worth asking what role we want technology to play in humanity's next chapters.

fountain. Jenath Rodriguez, VP Revenue Latham

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