Jacksonville uses artificial intelligence to help save homes and lives during severe weather

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The City of Jacksonville contracted with an artificial intelligence company to help with flood prevention during and after severe weather.


The Toronto based company, Ecopia AI is mapping the city to aid in stormwater mitigation.

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The contract is for three years: $100,000 for the first year, a projected $50,000 for the second year and $66,000 for the third.

The mapping started just ahead of hurricane season. The new partnership is expected to provide the most accurate and up-to-date landscape data yet for flood prevention.

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“What we’re doing here is creating that digital twin of what is visible from the eye, and converting that, you know, in the natural and built environment into a digital format,” said Brandon Palin, Senior Director for Public Sector & International Development at Ecopia AI. “This data is really the foundation of building that stronger, more resilient future.”

Palin said without artificial intelligence, mapping is labor intensive using satellite images to create the maps manually.

“As you can imagine, doing that for a city the size of Jacksonville would take quite a bit of time,” said Palin. “You’d be looking at getting data, at a minimum, two years after it was flown.”

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However, with Ecopia AI’s technology, Palin said they can return accurate data almost 20 times faster than conventional methods. He said, “Our turnaround times for creating datasets is four weeks after we receive it.”

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Action News Jax Chief Meteorologist Mike Buresh called it a gamechanger, “It will be the most accurate data we’ve ever been able to get our hands on as the storm is moving in. That’s really important because our land, our coastline, even our river coastline and the riverbanks are constantly changing,” said Buresh. “They’re never just staying the same because of wave action, water, heavy rain, flooding, all changes that landscape constantly, you know, years ago, it used to be lucky if we get an updated map every 15 or 20 years. So, this is huge.”

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