As part of the “ASEAN Regional Disaster Management Early Warning and Decision Support Capacity Enhancement Project”, we spent the week in Manila with our partners USAID, the Pacific Disaster Center (PDC), and the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) to kickstart the development of a crowd sourced disaster mapping platform for the Philippines. The initiative was officially launched on July 23, 2019, at an initial kick-off event attended by over 30 agencies including government organizations, NGOs, and private sector agencies.
Since its implementation in 2013 (formerly known as PetaJakarta.org), PetaBencana.id has proven that community-led data collection, sharing, and visualization reduces hazard risk and assists in relief efforts. The Philippines shares many of the key characteristics that have made PetaBencana.id a successful crowd-sourced hazard mapping platform in Indonesia. Geographically, it is also located in the ring of fire, and like many ASEAN countries, it has been affected by weather events which are becoming increasingly extreme and unpredictable due to climate change. Typhoons, floods, and landslides have been particularly destructive, and the Philippines is among the countries that have withstood the greatest socioeconomic hits in their wake.
Perhaps the most striking similarity that we have noticed however, is the spirit of mutual aid during disasters – more commonly known as gotong royong in Indonesia and bayanihan in the Philippines. The active spirit of coming together during disaster events, coupled with the fact that the country has the highest rates of social media usage in the world, sets up an ideal environment for developing a real-time information sharing platform to enhance capacities for civic-co management, increase coordination between residents and government agencies, and quicken response times during disasters.
We were thrilled to see the excitement of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), among other government agencies and NGOs, at the launch of this initiative. We look forward to working with all our partners and the residents of the Philippines to reduce risk together in the ASEAN region!