Ahmad Wani was home in 2014 visiting his mother in Kashmir, in northern India, when the floods hit. For seven days, the family waited for help to come. Luckily, they did not lose their home, but many others did, including the woman who became his wife. Countless others lost their lives.“That experience led me to think about why natural disaster response is broken,” Wani recalled. That process led to Wani’s creation of One Concern in 2015.
Wani spoke with Carrier Management during the I.I.I. 2019 Joint Industry Forum in New York City on Jan. 17, which he attended to take part in a panel discussion. When asked to describe his company, he said the premise is actually quite simple.
Wani noted that the Palo Alto Calif.-based company began its existence as an artificial intelligence company focused on natural disasters. The company, early on, has had a mission of building global resilience in order to promote “safety, sustainability and equity” in the face of natural disasters, he said.
“We want to be able to use AI for good, so we can build resilience in cities, so we don’t have to have devastating fires or earthquakes or hurricanes and lose lives.”
Wani said the technology can help cities get ahead of impending disasters and allow first responders to determine, collaboratively, where to go and who to evacuate more quickly.
“Traditional systems do not allow that level of granularity and dynamicity so that we can be able to see the…effect of incoming storms on chemical plants or on communities in low-lying areas, for example,” Wani said. “Through AI, we will now be able to pinpoint that ahead of time.”
As well, Wani said that AI can enable cities to get ahead of disasters and prepare more thoroughly in advance, through detailed disaster scenario drills.
Specifically, One Concern’s technology is designed, in part, to help predict and react to natural disaster impacts, analyze critical infrastructure and what’s at risk, run realistic training scenarios, and help boost disaster recovery times by showing links of a community such as healthcare, power, food and shelter, according to the company’s website.
Government, Insurers Among Client Targets
One Concern has raised $22.6 million to date, including a Series A round in 2017 led by venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates. American Family Insurance was an investor in the company’s early seed round.
The company’s initial customers have included city governments in places including San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle, Wani said, with the technology in use for planning and response training. Insurers are also a target customer base, but the company hasn’t yet disclosed specifics of any private sector deals, Wani added.
Close to 70 people work for One Concern at this point, but the company wants to grow between 30 percent and 40 percent in 2019, Wani said. The company also wants to expand its reach to other private companies and utilities.
Wani added that One Concern hopes to remain independent and is not actively looking for new financing right now. That said, it is eager for collaboration.
“We welcome people who would like to be strategic partners,” Wani said. “We want expertise from beyond just the venture community, so we would love to welcome any of the insurance companies or other private companies who would be interested in partnering with us.”