The Korea Herald


Korea eyes May launch for AI-based flood forecast system

AI to analyze areas prone to flooding, help officials issue warnings

By Lee Jung-joo

Published : Feb. 28, 2024 - 16:42

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Environment Minister Han Wha-jin speaks during a press conference on the Ministry of Environment's major policy initiatives for 2024. (Ministry of Environment) Environment Minister Han Wha-jin speaks during a press conference on the Ministry of Environment's major policy initiatives for 2024. (Ministry of Environment)

A flood forecasting system equipped with artificial intelligence technology will be implemented nationwide from May, in preparation for the rainy season during the summer, the Ministry of Environment said Wednesday.

The new AI-based flood forecasting system will be installed in a total of 223 locations nationwide, including 75 locations categorized as special flood warning points such as those next to large rivers.

The system will analyze the possibility of a flood occurring every 10 minutes and notify officials in advance to help them issue flood warnings.

The introduction of the system comes after a deadly incident in July last year when an underpass in Osong-eup, Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, flooded due to torrential rain, leaving 14 dead and nine injured.

“The Ministry believes that the new flood forecast system will be able to prevent further accidents from occurring,” said Environment Minister Han Wha-jin.

Additionally in May, the Ministry of Environment will begin to issue safety alert messages to individuals who are within the radius of a flood occurrence point to notify them to evacuate. The Environment Ministry will work with private companies that operate navigation apps to notify drivers who are driving toward special flood warning points in the event of heavy rain to advise drivers to make a detour and avoid any accidents.

The Environment Ministry has been participating in two deep underground tunnel construction projects with the Seoul Metropolitan Government near Gwanghwamun in central Seoul and in Gangnam, southern Seoul, that are set to be completed by 2027. The ministry has been working with relevant organizations to build a water pump system to prevent any flooding of the tunnels.

The move comes after a large-scale flood hit Seoul in August 2022.

The ministry will also increase its budgetary spending to maintain sewer lines from 154.1 billion won ($115 million) in 2023 to 327.5 billion won in 2024.

Additionally, as part of its efforts to tackle problems related to plastic waste and to meet the international deadline to reduce greenhouse gases by 2034, the ministry also said that it will release a series of regulations to tackle disposable waste, such as preventing excess delivery packaging, after consulting with related distribution industries.

“Discussions are currently underway between the ministry and related companies regarding the reduction of plastic waste in delivery packaging, and the ministry is working to develop regulations that can reduce social costs and inconveniences for companies,” added Han.

“In terms of reaching voluntary agreements with restaurants and cafes, the ministry will release detailed data on the kind of disposable waste that is most used in these places to reach an agreement and establish a goal as to what should be reduced by the first half of 2024.”