As weather patterns intensify and become increasingly unpredictable, megacities are regularly faced with the challenge of anticipating and responding to extreme weather events. A lack of access to verified, real-time data compromise abilities to make informed, evidence-based decisions concerning planning and response - resulting in ineffective resource management, confusion, and conflict.
Although rapidly urbanizing cities are often thought to be “data scarce,” the tacit knowledge of local communities, government agencies, and first responders, as well as the dense network of mobile sensors connected via social media, provides a data source of unprecedented resolution for mitigating urban risk. PetaBencana.id is a free web-based platform that produces megacity-scale visualizations of disasters using both crowd-sourced reporting & government agency validations in real-time.
As a free & open-source platform, PetaBencana.id is available for all residents to use & inspect. The platform currently supports a coverage area of over 56 million residents in Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, & Semarang. Since its debut in 2013, the platform has been used by millions of residents to make time-critical decisions about safety & navigation, & has been adopted by first responders & the National Emergency Management Agency (BNPB) to improve response times & disseminate emergency information.
Mission and Vision
By enabling greater information sharing & coordination amongst residents & government agencies, PetaBencana.id is committed to democratizing decision support tools; increasing the safety & resiliency of cities through greater inclusivity. Providing free access to time-critical information through a transparent 2-way communication platform ensures that everyone has the information they need to make decisions during disasters; fostering equitable & collaborative resilience to climate change.
Powered by CogniCity Open Source Software, PetaBencana.id harnesses the heightened use of social media & instant messaging during emergency events to gather confirmed situational updates from street level, in a manner that removes the need for expensive & time consuming data processing. In order to filter through the noise of social media & collect verified crowdsourced disaster reports, the software listens for specific keywords in social media posts (such as flood) & sends programmatic invitations asking users if they would like to contribute to community disaster mapping. Humanitarian chatbots guide users to submit anonymous flood reports through four steps: verify their location, record flood heights, and add photos and descriptions. These reports are displayed on a public map in real-time, alongside relevant emergency data collected by local agencies (such as river water levels) . Government emergency management agencies monitor the platform to assess the disaster situation, respond to resident needs, & as part of a transparent two-way communication system, update the map with time-critical information in order to alert residents to the severity of the flood. By integrating localized knowledge from a variety of sources into a single, robust platform, PetaBencana.id is able to provide a comprehensive overview of disaster events, enabling residents, humanitarian agencies, and government agencies to make more informed decisions during emergencies.
Designed as a modular platform, PetaBencana.id can act parasitically on any social media application. Chatbots guide users to confirm their situation through a report card accessed via a web-based link, allowing anyone to easily contribute structured information to the map through channels they are already familiar with. This allows us to reach millions of residents, increase accessibility, leverage various traditional knowledges, & provides opportunities to scale & adapt to varying cultures and geographies. Anonymous reporting gives equal voice to the city’s heterogenous agents. Cloud computing enables the platform to handle high volumes of traffic during disaster situations without requiring expensive but idle servers during off-peak times. During emergency situations, when access to accurate, time-critical information is most important, the web server running CogniCity is programmed to scale virtually to handle peak demand.
Planned Goals and Milestones
In 2018-2019, PetaBencana.id will scale nationally and include four additional hazards: earthquakes, volcanoes, forest fires, and extreme weather (e.g. tornadoes, high wind events). In line with this expansion, as a means by which to sustain the outreach of scaling efforts, encourage crowd-sourced disaster information and increase accessibility to critical information at a national scale, we will also be developing gamified humanitarian awareness and disaster preparedness tools.