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.