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Nonprofit, Google team to offer cash assistance to some Ian victims' phones

Posted at 5:15 AM, Oct 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-28 05:15:13-04

Rebuilding Southwest Florida following Hurricane Ian could take months, if not years.

Now Google is teaming up with a nonprofit group, using its advanced technology to help some folks hardest-hit by the storm.

GiveDirectly is a website allowing people to send money to those in need with no strings attached.

They're using Google's artificial intelligence to scan satellite images, identifying areas where the destruction was most widespread.

About 3,500 storm-weary residents were sent text messages to their smartphones, offering up to $700 in cash assistance.

The messages went primarily to residents in Lee, Charlotte, and Collier counties, all of whom suffered significant damage and flooding from Ian.

Google's algorithm identified those most in need, allowing GiveDirectly to get the money where it was urgently needed - as opposed to manually sorting through thousands of applications or user profiles.

It was all powered by google's mapping tool, "Delphi," which cross-references live weather maps with data on poverty, and utilizes a new program that teaches itself to analyze and interpret the severity of damage to buildings in a community.

Ultimately, aid groups are hoping the project will expand and bring much-needed help to boots-on-the-ground disaster response.

Fox's Ebben Brown reported from Miami.