Crowd-sourcing Twitter data as a solution to emergency response to flooding in Jakarta

15785336539_294f5ee35d_oBy Dr Tomas Holderness & Dr Etienne Turpin

The early June release of the White Paper marked the end of the first phase of the ground breaking research program. is a world-first Joint Pilot Study initiated by SMART Infrastructure Facility, University of Wollongong, in collaboration with the Jakarta Emergency Management Agency (BPBD DKI Jakarta) and Twitter Inc. The study aim was to research and develop open source software (OSS) for the integrated management of social media and API-sourced data in order to make flood risk information open, accessible, and actionable by residents, government agencies, NGOs, and private sector developers. runs on the OSS CogniCity, a framework for urban data collection and management developed by SMART Infrastructure Facility and the SMART OSGeo Lab. Released as OSS, CogniCity can readily be deployed in other urban environments in Indonesia and Southeast Asia facing similar challenges.

As rates of urbanization continue to increase in Asia, it is imperative to develop tools that can facilitate the co-management of increasingly complex urban environments. With more than fourteen megacities located on deltas in the region, hundreds of millions of urban residents will face difficult challenges due to extreme weather events as a result of climate change; using the power of social media to network and validate time-critical situational information offers a key element for resilience to extreme weather events.

The Joint Pilot Study for the project was operationally active from December 2014 to March 2015; during this time, the project enabled Jakarta’s citizens to report the locations of flood events using the social media network Twitter, thereby contributing to a publicly accessible real-time map of flood conditions at These data were used by BPBD DKI Jakarta to cross-validate formal reports of flooding from traditional data sources, supporting the creation of information for flood assessment, response, and management in real-time. is the first pilot study to prove the value of integrated social media and API-sourced data for the civic co-management of disasters resulting from extreme weather events in a major Southeast Asian megacity.

The findings of the Joint Pilot Study offer scientific evidence that prove the value and utility of social media as a mega-city methodology for crowd-sourcing relevant situational information to support decision-making and response coordination during extreme weather events.

As a result of the success of the first phase of this program, funding applications are currently being submitted in order to support a proposed second phase, which will see the project continue through the 2015-2016 monsoon season in collaboration with the Jakarta Government, and expand the system to encompass a number of new data sources including photos of the flooding and a complete spatio-topological network model of Jakarta’s hydrological network.

Drs Holderness and Turpin presented their White Paper as part of the SMART Seminar Series on June 23rd 2015. A report covering the seminar can be found via the Events section of the SMART Infrastructure Facility website. To view their slideshow presentation, visit SMART on Slideshare. Images are available via the SMART Flickr account.

One thought on “Crowd-sourcing Twitter data as a solution to emergency response to flooding in Jakarta

  1. When disaster strikes back, Digital Jedis are on the watch!
    Continue the good work and spread the word around the World!

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