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BNPB Indonesia launches open-source platform to crowdsource flood information

Last year, when we spoke to Dr. Ir. Agus Wibowo, the Head of Information Division under the Centre of data, information and public relations at the Indonesian National Disaster Management Authority or the Badan Nasional Penanggulangan Bencana (BNPB), he talked about using social media such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook for collecting disaster data.

Earlier this month, BNPB launched a free, open-source platform, PetaBencana.id, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Urban Risk Lab To deal with the potential threat of flooding during the rainy season. The project is part of InAWARE Disaster Management Early Warning and Decision Support Capacity Enhancement within Indonesia's BNPB and BPBDs (Regional Disaster Management Agencies). It was supported by USAID, the Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT).

Users can visit the website to access the latest information flooding in Greater Jakarta, Surabaya and Bandung. In addition, users can actively provide real-time reports on the flood situation using social media and instant messaging applications.

Snapshots of side menu bar from https://www.petabencana.id/

Twitter users can send a tweet @petabencana with hashtag #banjir and a bot called BencanaBot will automatically guide users to fill out a report. The Twitter page already has over 53000 followers as of today. Users of the Telegram messaging app can also easily report flooding by sending the message "* / flood *" to @BencanaBot, which will then help users create and submit reports. Users can add any descriptions, photographs and other details in the report.

The press release says that the reports will be verified and propagated directly through a public forum. Once verified, the information is directly integrated into the map.

PetaBencana.id not only collect reports from crowdsourcing from social media but also disaster-related information infrastructure. The map can also display information, such as the water level in the sluice and the location of the nearest pump as a layer, to provide a more holistic view of the flood situation.

Dr. Etienne Turpin, from the MIT Urban Risk Lab said that the PetaBencana.id team is also working with working with Qlue (an app which lets citizens file complaints which get directed to the responsible government departments), PasangMata.detik.com (a citizen journalism platform), Z-alerts (a disaster management app from Zurich and other partners.

The idea is to make it as convenient as possible for users can report through the application of their choice. Other mobile applications or channels are invigted to share information with PetaBencana.id.

Head of Data, Information and Public Relations at BNPB, Sutopo Purwo Nugroho underlined the importance of rapid response in disaster management efforts. Community involvement through social media can play a very important role in that regard. By sharing disaster information, residents can help each other to make decisions based on current information. Residents can also help authorities in penangana disasters, including BNPB, BPBDs and stakeholders for disaster handlers effective and efficient.

Going forward, there are plans to develop similar platforms for other disasters, such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

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