Researchers at the UOW’s SMART Infrastructure Facility have developed a system to map flooding in real-time using crowd-sourced data from Twitter.

A pilot study mapping floods in one of the world’s fastest developing cities has revealed the value of crowd-sourced data to support disaster risk management for governments and citizens. is led by co-principal investigators Dr Etienne Turpin and Dr Tomas Holderness of UOW. The web-based platform runs on custom built open source software, called CogniCity, which turns the geo-tagged Tweets by Jakarta’s citizens into valuable data.

The platform allows citizens to share flood information with social media peers while simultaneously providing the Jakarta Emergency Management Agency (BPBD DKI Jakarta) with data to support decision making for disaster response. Furthermore, the information shared via Twitter is visualised in real-time with an online map so citizens can warn each other about flood-affected areas and can safely navigate around the city.

“Jakarta’s population is one of the most active on Twitter in the world, so it is the ideal place to trial CogniCity, which is open-source, specifically designed for disaster management, and capable of consuming more than 240 tweets per second,” Dr Holderness said.

The pilot study was conducted during the 2014/2015 monsoon season in collaboration with the BPBD DKI Jakarta, and Twitter Inc., and is a world-first collaboration between Twitter, a university, and a disaster management agency.

“Information collected by the platform complements existing disaster response systems and helps BPBD DKI Jakarta respond faster to flood situations, which frequently occur across the CBD and outer city regions during the monsoon,” Dr Turpin said, adding that recent trends in weather intensification have exacerbated the problem.

Since the project’s official launch by Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama in December 2014, thousands of people have reported flood problems to via their mobile devices. At peak times, handled more than 3,000 users per hour.

With the support of Twitter, two-way communication protocols to help solicit flood reporting from the public were also trialled; more than 89,000 programmatic invitations have been disseminated to Twitter users in Jakarta, resulting in more than 2.2 million Twitter impressions.

“Due to its prevalent use, rich multimedia capabilities, and geolocation parameters, Twitter sees huge amounts of valuable data being shared by its users. And, as we’ve seen with the project, CogniCity has the ability to make sense of this information in the context of disaster management so it can be analysed and acted upon,” Dr Turpin said.

Importantly, CogniCity is transferable software and could readily be deployed in other cities to address issues such as waste management, transport and traffic congestion, weather emergencies, and even elections and governance.

A White Paper with information about the CogniCity software and its capabilities, and a review of the recent Joint Pilot Study, was announced at the “What Works” session of the New Cities Summit in Jakarta on 10 June 2015.

The White Paper will also be highlighted in the U.S. by Twitter’s Jim Moffitt at the 2015 National Hydrologic Warning Council Training Conference & Exposition on 15 June.

The White Paper, Assessing the Role of Social Media for Civic Co-Management During Monsoon Flooding in Jakarta, Indonesia, is available online:

For University of Wollongong. Read the original article.