PetaBencana.id provides residents, government agencies, and first responders with a real-time disaster information sharing system at an unprecedented scale. It is the first platform of its kind to harness the power of crowdsourcing through social media to aid humanitarian response and recovery.
Ahead of extreme monsoon weather, Indonesia launches first WhatsApp Humanitarian Chatbot
Yayasan Peta Bencana, supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and endorsed by Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB), as part of the USAID Cognicity OSS for Next Generation Community Engagement in DRM Program, through the Investing in Human Capital for Disaster Management initiative, officially launched the first WhatsApp Humanitarian Chatbot, BencanaBot. The first-of-its-kind, AI-assisted chatbot guides Indonesian residents to submit disaster reports. These reports are mapped in real-time on a free and open source platform, PetaBencana.id, where anyone is able to view and share real-time disaster updates in order to make coordinated, evidence-based decisions about safety and response.
Floodwaters up to 3 meters high destroyed dozens of homes in North Sulawesi on Friday, and torrential rains have flooded several areas in Indonesia during the first month of the year. BMKG has issued a warning for peak rainfall across the country this week, with the monsoon season expected to continue into March. In preparation for the upcoming extreme weather and in line with BNPB’s vision of Indonesia Tangguh 2045, the launch of BencanaBot on WhatsApp is a pivotal next step in strengthening preparedness and community-led disaster risk reduction.
“If we used to focus on disaster mitigation, now we must focus more on disaster risk reduction. In the past, it was ‘what to do,’ now it is ‘how to do,’” BNPB’s deputy for system and strategy, Raditya Jati, explained at a national seminar on strengthening disaster mitigation systems for community resilience as part of the 2022 Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Month.
According to the IPCC report, one of the greatest barriers to adaptation is a lack of timely, locally-specific information. PetaBencana.id addresses this gap by collecting real-time updates directly from street level, soliciting resident reports through automated chatbots on social media and instant messaging apps.
“The scale of the challenges we face today cannot be addressed by one institution alone. It is imperative to enable every single resident to be able to participate in disaster risk reduction and recovery efforts, and that is our mission at Yayasan Peta Bencana,” said Nashin Mahtani, director of Yayasan Peta Bencana. “Recognizing that during disasters people will use the applications they are already using with increased frequency, PetaBencana.id was intentionally designed to harness the use of active social media and instant messaging channels. With over 80 million active users of WhatsApp in Indonesia, the launch of BencanaBot on WhatsApp represents a new milestone in enabling residents all across the archipelago to participate in, and benefit from, this free disaster information sharing system.”
Any resident in Indonesia can submit disaster reports anonymously by sending a message to +62-8584-BENCANA (+62-8584-2362262 or bit.ly/BencanaBotWA). Residents can also submit reports by tweeting @petabencana, sending a Facebook message to @petabencana, or sending a telegram message to @bencanabot, and check https://petabencana.id for real-time disaster updates to navigate safely.
#ThereIsHelp: As Indonesia braces for peak monsoon flooding, a nation-wide digital media campaign led by Twitter, PetaBencana, and BNPB supports community-led climate adaptation
As leaders convene at the G20 and UNCOP27 meetings to deliberate commitments to climate action, residents across the world are already experiencing the impacts of extreme weather and are struggling to adapt to unprecedented scales of weather-related disaster events. As Indonesia braces for peak monsoon flooding, a recently launched nation-wide digital media campaign is supporting residents to stay safe and adapt to extreme weather, from the ground-up. The #ThereIsHelp notification service was launched by Twitter, together with partners Yayasan Peta Bencana and BNPB. Now, when residents search for disaster related keywords in Indonesia, the social media site will include a notification encouraging them to click through to credible information and support provided by Twitter’s official partners, PetaBencana.id and BNPB.
Among Indonesians, the PetaBencana Twitter bot, or “BencanaBot” has become famous for its automatic responses to any post containing disaster-related keywords. The bot asks users to confirm their situation by submitting a disaster report. These reports are mapped in real-time on a free and open source platform, PetaBencana.id, where anyone is able to view and share real-time disaster updates in order to make decisions about safety and response. Since 2013, the platform has been used by millions of residents and first responders in Indonesia to make time-critical decisions about safety and navigation during emergency disaster events. Run by Yayasan Peta Bencana and supported by USAID Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance, the platform is also monitored by BNPB who use the platform to view and respond to incoming resident reports. The launch of the #ThereIsHelp feature supports the amplification of this community-based risk reduction effort, as it ensures that all Indonesians will be directed towards verified and timely information during disasters, thereby supporting greater and more effective coordination for all.
According to BNPB Public Relations Officer Theophilus Yanuarto, who participated in a public conversation on Twitter about the #ThereIsHelp feature, discussions about disaster risk are growing in popularity in Indonesia due to the region’s susceptibility to a wide range of hazards. According to Yunuarto, tools such as PetaBencana provide critical information for the public to support community-level response and increased disaster awareness. In addition, he expressed that increased public participation in disaster information sharing is critical in reducing risk for the nation as a whole, and Yunuarto specifically pointed towards how the crowdsourced data provided on PetaBencana.id helps emergency managers at BNPB effectively respond to disasters.
According to Monrawee Ampolpittayanant, Head of Public Policy and Philanthropy for Southeast Asia at Twitter, “Our core objective of launching this #ThereIsHelp notification search prompt is to truly help shorten the search time and to provide timely access to credible information from our partners to those in need. In collaboration with BNPB Indonesia (@BNPB_Indonesia), Peta Bencana (@PetaBencana), MERCY Malaysia (@MERCYMalaysia), and NADMA Malaysia (@mynadma), we hope this notification service can serve as a means to help the Indonesian and Malaysian public, as well as government and non-government stakeholders navigate the extreme weather that the monsoon season brings in along with other unprecedented disaster events.”
According to Nashin Mahtani, Director of Yayasan Peta Bencana, “As extreme weather events become more frequent and severe, it is imperative that every single person is empowered to participate in disaster risk reduction and recovery efforts. During disasters, the first source people turn to is often social media. In a time of information overload, the #ThereIsHelp prompt helps to quickly direct people towards trusted and verified source of information, so that everyone is able to proactively act on their own safety and participate in the civic co-management of disasters. We celebrate the #ThereIsHelp initiative and are grateful to collaborate with our long-time partners at Twitter to ensure that all residents have easier, immediate, access to credible information during emergency situations and are aware of the ways they can participate in our shared goals of reducing risk together through digital gotong royong!”
With a historical triple La Nina this year, Indonesia is expected to receive higher than usual rainfall. We remind residents to stay informed and stay safe! Anyone in Indonesia can submit an anonymous disaster report by tweeting @petabencana, sending a telegram message to @bencanabot, or sending a facebook message to @petabencana.
PetaBencana meets with Egyptian Meteorological Agency in preparation for COP27
In preparation for COP27, PetaBencana was invited to participate at the “Intergenerational Thinkshop for Hydromet Early Warning Early Action (EWEA): The Engagement of Young Professionals in Disaster Risk Reduction” in Cairo. The ‘Thinkshop’ gathered stakeholders from across 5 generations, representing a range of geographic backgrounds from across 4 continents, coming from a range of disciplines including academics, first responders, NGOs, emergency managers, and scientists. Participants gathered to discuss adaptation efforts to increasingly escalating hydrometeorological shocks due to climate change, and to reflect on the implications of the UN Secretary General Guterres initiative to ensure that “every person on Earth is protected by early warning systems within five years”. The workshop was also attended by head of the Egyptian Meteorological Agency, , who iterated his commitment to ensure multi-hazard warning systems for all.
PetaBencana was invited to share our experience working with residents across Indonesia to adapt to extreme weather events, where we highlighted the role of local knowledge in risk reduction, and involving local communities as co-designers of risk reduction programs.
As the culmination of the workshop, together with the participants we co-published a Cairo Statement which will be presented to leaders and stakeholders at COP27. The statement highlights the need to consider the full spectrum of warning and action within the early warning system discussion, acknowledging that the social and behavioural aspects of warning systems, or the ways by which people are equipped and empowered to take action, is a significant portion of the warning infrastructure that has seldom been discussed. History has shown that an improved forecast does not always translate to more proactive responses to warnings. Instead of investing on predictive modelling and technical systems only, equal attention must be given to the behavioural aspects of risk reduction – that is, how people respond to warnings. Additionally, warning systems cannot be thought of as a one-way delivery from large institutions. Local, residential, and indigenous knowledge also play an invaluable role in detecting the earliest warning signals, which are often apparent only through situated, place-based perceptual skills and so must be integrated into monitoring systems on an equal basis with more technical tools of detection. The statement also highlights that funding for the early warning system initiative must prioritize the most vulnearable individuals and areas first. The full statement can be read here.
Powered by CogniCity Open Source Software, PetaBencana.id is a free, web-based platform that produces real-time disaster maps using both crowd-sourced reporting and government agency validations. The platform harnesses the heightened use of social media and instant messaging during emergency events to gather confirmed situational updates from street level, in a manner that removes the need for expensive and time consuming data processing. These verified user reports are displayed alongside relevant emergency data collected by local and government agencies. 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.
Since its debut in 2013 (as PetaJakarta.org), the PetaBencana.id platform has been used by millions of resident users to make time-critical decisions about safety and navigation during emergency disaster events; it has also been adopted by the National Emergency Management Agency (BNPB) to monitor flood events, improve response times, and share time-critical emergency information with residents. The platform has enabled greater information sharing and data coordination among residents and government agencies, fostering equitable and collaborative resilience to climate change.
PetaBencana.id has proven that community-led data collection, sharing, and visualization reduces flood risk and assists in relief efforts. In the 2015 World Disaster Report of the International Federation of the Red Cross, the project was recommended as a model for community engagement in relation to disaster response. In 2016, the Federal Communication Commission of the United States also recommended the project as a best practice regarding disaster information crowdsourcing.
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The PetaBencana.id community is made up of a diverse group of volunteers, local community leaders, and professionals dedicated to building capacities for community-based disaster co-management. There are a number of ways to get involved!
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