How can we empower frontline communities to prevent, prepare for, and recover from the most urgent climate-related disasters, such as wildfires, floods, and extreme weather? That was the topic of a recent panel discussion with the Climate Resiliency Challenge, sponsored by CSAA and Aon.
ZestyAI Co-Founder Kumar Dhuvur sat on the panel to share his perspective on this incredibly important and pertinent topic. Kumar was joined by fellow panelists, Franklin Manchester, Principal, Global Insurance Industry and Marketing Manager from SAS, and Kevin Cei, Head of Solutions Architecture at Jupiter Intelligence.
Moving From Recovery to Prevention
At the beginning of the discussion, Dhuvur shared some background on ZestyAI’s property and climate risk analytics platform and how it can be used to increase preparedness for climate-related disasters. ZestyAI’s platform assesses the resilience of a property or community to climate events, such as wildfire, hail, and wind. While these insights are currently being used by insurance and real estate industries, they could easily be applied to prevention and preparedness initiatives because the models are inherently built for risk mitigation.
Along with providing scores that indicate the likelihood of a property being affected by a climate event and the potential damage it may face, additional insights are provided to help insurers and homeowners understand a property’s vulnerability so that mitigation steps can be taken to increase resilience.
Making an Impact on Communities
The panelists were asked about the real-world impact their technologies are having on communities. Dhuvur was the first to offer an example of how ZestyAI is not just providing data, but making a real difference to families and communities.
“Because of wildfire risk, insurance availability, and affordability is becoming a challenge, especially in states like California,” said Dhuvur. “One of the advantages of insurance companies working with ZestyAI is the ability to provide property-specific scores. So instead of insurance companies saying, ‘Hey, this entire zip code is vulnerable to wildfire. I'm not going to write any insurance there,’ they can now make choices at the property level. They can say, ‘This property is doing all the right things to protect their home from wildfire risk. They have the right building material. They are clearing their surrounding vegetation. And therefore, I want to reward that homeowner and extend affordable insurance to the property.’”
One of the advantages of insurance companies working with ZestyAI is the ability to provide property-specific scores.
Additionally, ZestyAI has collaborated with fire departments, providing them with access to data to aid in firefighting efforts, including staff allocation and prioritization. These real-world impacts go beyond data provision, demonstrating the practical benefits of ZestyAI's insights.
Digesting Complex Data
Explainability of complex data was emphasized during the discussion, aligning with the insurance industry's increasing focus on transparency in underwriting. Several states now have specific requirements around underwriting transparency, and ZestyAI has been actively supporting its partners in meeting these requirements.
Along with property-specific resilience scores, ZestyAI models clearly explain the score by identifying the top three reasons behind a property's score. This enables homeowners to take concrete actions based on the data provided. By providing clarity and insight into the underwriting process, ZestyAI contributes to a more transparent and understandable approach to complex data analysis and decision-making in the insurance industry.
ZestyAI models clearly explain the score by identifying the top three reasons behind a property's score.
In line with this, ZestyAI partnered with a nonprofit organization focused on disaster rebuilding, aiming to shift towards proactive resilience-building rather than reactive responses. By granting the nonprofit access to their data, ZestyAI helped identify vulnerable communities and prioritize meaningful actions to improve their resilience. This proactive approach aims to significantly impact communities by improving lives and safeguarding against future disasters.
Shining a Light on Dark Data
Data lies at the core of ZestyAI's work, and Dhuvur emphasizes its importance in the later part of the discussion. ZestyAI analyzes vast amounts of previously untouched raw data through cutting-edge techniques like AI, machine learning, deep learning, and computer vision. This includes data from satellite imagery, aircraft imagery, building permits, and real estate transactions. These unstructured and messy data sets are now transformed into valuable insights, thanks to advancements in technology.
However, Dhuvur notes that this technology is still in its early stages, with new methods continually emerging. Ongoing innovation in data acquisition and analytics holds great potential for converting raw data into meaningful and actionable information that can make a real impact and ultimately help further empower frontline communities to prevent, prepare for, and recover from the ever-increasing climate-related disasters.