At 1:13 p.m. last Feb. 11, residents of Cilincing, in North Jakarta, were wading through floodwaters up to their knees. The following morning, at 6:48 a.m., floodwaters were three feet deep in Kalideres, in West Jakarta.
These flood reports were published on the social networking platform Twitter by local residents opting to contribute to a real-time data collection project being trialed in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital. Thousands of similar tweets were captured during the country’s last monsoon season. Data extracted from these tweets – most importantly when and where flooding was occurring – was visualized on a publicly accessible mobile-friendly interactive map, providing Jakartans with an up-to-date source of information about flood hazards across their city. At the same time, personnel at the Jakarta Emergency Management Agency, which monitors and manages responses to Jakarta's seasonal floods, were accessing and viewing the same map and data, using it to crosscheck reports of flooding from traditional sources.
Attempts to use social media to crowdsource information, including in disaster situations, are not new. Jakarta, however, is currently a test lab for a system that is elevating crowdsourced data to new levels of validity.
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