How Social Media Can Help Save Indonesians From Climate Disasters

28-year-old architect Nashin Mahtani’s website, PetaBencana.id, uses artificial intelligence and chat-bots to monitor and respond to social posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Telegram by communities in Indonesia hit by floods. The information is then displayed on a real-time map that is monitored by emergency services.

Image result for petabencana screenshot

“Jakarta is the Twitter capital of the world, generating 2% of the world’s tweets, and our team noticed that during a flood, people were tweeting in real-time with an incredible frequency, even while standing in flood waters,” said Mahtani, a graduate of Canada’s University of Waterloo. Jakarta residents often share information with each other online about road blockages, rising waters and infrastructure failures.

Unlike other relief systems that mine data on social media, PetaBencana.id adopts AI-assisted “humanitarian chat-bots” to engage in conversations with residents and confirm flooding incidents. “This allows us to gather confirmed situational updates from street level, in a manner that removes the need for expensive and time-consuming data processing,” Mahtani said.

 

In early 2020, the project will go nationwide to serve 250 million people and include additional disasters such as forest fires, haze, earthquakes and volcanoes.

Why It’s Hot

Aggregating social data in real-time on a map allows for easy flow of information between residents in need and emergency services who can help them. In a situation when every second counts to help as many people as possible, this use of technology is truly life-saving.

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