Jul 23, 2019 | Updated: 09:15 AM EDT

Artificial Intelligence Identifies Potential Problems Caused by Global Water Supply Deficiency and Prevents Them

Jun 26, 2019 09:24 AM EDT

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The Water, Peace, and Security Partnership (WPS) in the Netherlands developed a tool that uses artificial intelligence in determining where conflicts over scarce water will break out to a year in advance and creating a plan in preventing them. 

This early warning device has the capacity to track down water supplies worldwide and combines economic, social, and demographic data to predict possible crises. 

In the experimental stage, the WPS demonstrated that the system was able to predict more than 75% of Mali's Inner Niger Delta water-related conflicts. The said group also plans to launch the system on a global scale this year. 

"We want to detect conflict early enough...to then engage in a dialogue process that helps to address these conflicts - ideally mitigate them early on or resolve them," said Susanne Schmeier from the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, which leads the WPS.

The large impact of climate change can bring about conflicts in diminishing resources among people due to the droughts and sea level rises, according to MSN

Traditional methods were not successful in predicting crises because of the varying causes of conflict and can be very locally specific. 

"The WPS said their tool is a step forward as it draws together advances in remote sensing, machine learning, and big data processing to provide alerts that can be acted upon," according to Eureka Alert. 

Satellites from NASA and European Space Agency data are used by the system as these conduct global monitoring of water resources around the world. 

Information from international bodies, research organizations, and governments are analyzed in order to identify areas of potential conflict. 

"The machine learning is able to detect patterns in the data where humans can't," said Charles Iceland from the World Resources Institute, which is also working on the system.

Warnings can be used to investigate water conflict causes and focus help to these areas that require it the most. 

Areas, where humans cannot provide data due to hostility, can be assisted with artificial intelligence. 

"In tests last year using 2016 data from the Inner Niger Delta, the tool correctly predicted water conflicts would break out further south in 2017 as the population grew while resources were diminished by the diversion of water to cash crops," as reported by Eureka Alert. 

"The early warning system serves as a prioritization tool," Iceland told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"We can determine the hotspots - the places you have to really tackle immediately - versus other places that may just be simmering or are fine."

(Reporting by Sonia Elks @soniaelks; Editing by Ros Russell. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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