Aligning with the World Bank's Disruptive Technology corporate priority, the GFDRR Innovation Lab is exploring the use of disruptive technology for disaster risk management and resilience. Disruptive technologies include innovations like: 3D printing, drones, artificial intelligence, the internet of things and geospatial and satellite imagery. 

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The Innovation Lab has been actively engaged in this field for a number of years through the Open Data for Resilience Initiative (OpenDRI) and Spatial Impact Assessment. This work is expanding to facilitate exchanges between Silicon Valley and cities the World Bank works in, focused on applications of disruptive technology to urban planning. Study tours in Silicon Valley have brought together representatives from Bangladesh, Colombia, India, Romania, and Tanzania with tech industry and city representatives to learn from each other’s experiences and explore avenues for emerging technologies to make a difference.

Piloting application of specific technologies is also part of this initiative. Teams from cities that participated on the study tour are working to identify which technologies have the most potential to enhance their approaches to boosting urban resilience, then pilot these technology applications in their cities over the coming years.

Other examples of our work in disruptive technologies include:

  • In 2012, OpenDRI trained more than 1500 people to map the Kathmandu Valley to document health and education facilities in Nepal, which led to the startup Kathmandu Living Labs. The team served as a critical resource during the 2015 earthquake response. 
  • In Dar es Salaam’s largest slum, Tandale, drones were used to create better maps and enable the community to manage risks from major annual floods.
  • OpenDRI has also supported the use of drones  in Zanzibar to collect low-cost, high-accuracy imagery that has been used to update the aerial maps of the island for disaster risk management.  
  • In the Seychelles, where widely adored coastlines are quickly eroding, OpenDRI convened a south-south knowledge exchange between the Zanzibar Mapping Initiative and Seychellois government. ZMI trained dozens of Seychellois representatives to plan, fly, and process data for a drone flight.