Vehicles assigned to the 878th Engineer Vertical Construction Company, 105th Engineer Battalion, drive through flooded roads and debris on the way to assist stranded civilians on Oak Island, N.C., Aug. 5, 2020. The North Carolina National Guard deployed teams across the Eastern portion of the state to assist civilians and North Carolina Emergency Management with damage inflicted by Hurricane Isaias.
Vehicles assigned to the 878th Engineer Vertical Construction Company, 105th Engineer Battalion, drive through flooded roads and debris on the way to assist stranded civilians on Oak Island, N.C., Aug. 5, 2020. The North Carolina National Guard deployed teams across the Eastern portion of the state to assist civilians and North Carolina Emergency Management with damage inflicted by Hurricane Isaias. (Photo Credit: Sgt. Lisa Vines) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON -- The Defense Department is partnering with other agencies to develop deep-learning artificial intelligence algorithms to provide near-real-time data to improve the decision-making of first responders engaged in natural disasters and humanitarian assistance efforts.

Representatives from DOD and its partners — the Energy Department and Microsoft — along with a White House official, spoke yesterday during a virtual meeting.

Michael J. Kratsios, DOD's chief technology officer, said five consortiums have been launched to accomplish this goal, using the best AI technology talent from industry to respond to humanitarian assistance and to mitigate natural disasters by protecting property and lives, including those of first responders.

Cheryl Ingstad, director of the Energy Department's AI and technology office, said one of the most important aspects of this work is understanding first responders' needs and developing AI in such a way that they can easily understand and use it. She said she's confident the work will save lives and that additional partners may be added to the effort.

Citizen-Soldiers and citizen-Airmen from the Oregon National Guard create a fire line during wildland firefighter training at the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training in Salem, Ore. July 13-17. The training included more than 400 citizen-Soldiers and citizen-Airmen from the Oregon National Guard and is part of the state’s coordinated and comprehensive effort to suppress wildfires.
Citizen-Soldiers and citizen-Airmen from the Oregon National Guard create a fire line during wildland firefighter training at the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training in Salem, Ore. July 13-17. The training included more than 400 citizen-Soldiers and citizen-Airmen from the Oregon National Guard and is part of the state’s coordinated and comprehensive effort to suppress wildfires. (Photo Credit: Sgt. 1st Class Amy Elker) VIEW ORIGINAL

Nand Mulchandani, acting director of the Defense Department's Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, said DOD is working on this collaborative project because the department devotes significant time and manpower to responding to disasters and humanitarian assistance relief operations, and this work can contribute to that effort in a big way.

Research and development, he said, has been progressing for about a year, and it has progressed from being a concept to become something that can be used. "Software has unique and powerful properties," he said. "If you build it well with the right customer focus and architecture, the more you build, the cheaper it gets."

Susie Adams, Microsoft's chief federal technology officer, said the work not only will help first responders in the United States, but also will be shared with global partners.

Air National Guard Intelligence Analysts assigned to the 181st Intelligence Wing, 137th Intelligence Squadron Unclassified Processing, Assessment, and Dissemination (UPAD) site were hand selected to assist in new developmental programs at Hulman Field Indiana National Guard Base, Ind., Nov. 02, 2019.
Air National Guard Intelligence Analysts assigned to the 181st Intelligence Wing, 137th Intelligence Squadron Unclassified Processing, Assessment, and Dissemination (UPAD) site were hand selected to assist in new developmental programs at Hulman Field Indiana National Guard Base, Ind., Nov. 02, 2019. (Photo Credit: Tech. Sgt. L. Roland Sturm) VIEW ORIGINAL

"AI and machine learning enable solutions never thought possible," she said. "AI is a tool to augment human intelligence, not replace it. It's about getting data to the right people at the right time as quickly as possible so they can make better-informed decisions."

Adams noted that Microsoft has been working on AI for about 25 years and now has 1,000 researchers engaged in AI work.

Chris Liddell, White House deputy chief of staff, said the administration is excited about government and private partners using AI to save lives and fully supports the effort.

Related Links

Army.mil: Humanitarian Relief

STAND-TO!: Army Modernization Strategy

STAND-TO! Artificial Intelligence

Army.mil: Worldwide News

Defense.gov