The Atlantic: How a Feel-Good AI Story Went Wrong in Flint

The Atlantic: How a Feel-Good AI Story Went Wrong in Flint. “More than a thousand days after the water problems in Flint, Michigan, became national news, thousands of homes in the city still have lead pipes, from which the toxic metal can leach into the water supply. To remedy the problem, the lead pipes need to be replaced with safer, copper ones. That sounds straightforward, but it is a challenge to figure out which homes have lead pipes in the first place. The City’s records are incomplete and inaccurate. And digging up all the pipes would be costly and time-consuming. That’s just the kind of problem that automation is supposed to help solve.”

Google Wants to Help the Folks in Flint

Google wants to help the people in Flint, Michigan. “Access to clean drinking water is a concern all over the world, but in the United States it’s often a foregone conclusion. That is not the case recently for the residents of Flint, Michigan, many of whom we now know have been exposed to lead in their tap water. It’s a crisis, one to which the American people readily responded by donating water and resources to help alleviate the immediate pain. But the problem won’t go away quickly, and understanding its extent is both challenging and an absolute necessity. Today, Google.org is providing $250,000 to partners in the Flint community to help, with a special focus on a technical solution for understanding and resolving the crisis for the long term.”

Did Google Trends Predict the Flint Water Crisis?

Wow: Did Google Trends Predict the Flint Water Crisis? “The graph below shows Google trends from the search term ‘lead water’ within the city’s geographic region when compared to the State of Michigan, and the United States as a whole….It shows that residents started searching for ‘lead water’ almost as soon as the City of Flint switched its water source. Further, we can see that residents continued to search for lead water long before any elected official or emergency manager seemed to realize there was an issue.”

MSU Develops Smartphone App for Flint Residents

Michigan State University has developed a smartphone app to help Flint, Michigan residents deal with the Flint water crisis. “Among the app’s features is a ‘find’ operation that allows the user to search for the closest water stations, free water filters and sources of nutritious food, and then pull up a map for directions.”