The Jakarta Post
Two months after its launch, flood-monitoring platform Petajakarta.org has drawn thousands of netizens to report floods across the capital city during rainy days.
Petajakarta.org's co-principal investigator, Etienne Turpin, pointed out that the growing participation also resulted in an improvement in the quality of the reports.
Petajakarta.org, developed with the University of Wollongong's Smart Infrastructure Facility, is an open-source platform in which Twitter users can share real-time information with others about flooding in the city. The site aggregates reports on floods sent by Jakarta residents via Twitter account @petajkt into a map so netizens can easily locate inundated areas in Jakarta.
'Reports [on floods] continually increase [and] the quality becomes clearer. We retweet good tweets so [netizens] know they will be retweeted when they tweet the right messages,' Turpin told The Jakarta Post at the petajakarta.org office in Setiabudi, South Jakarta.
Petajakarta.org received a total of 5,209 reports on floods throughout January and 771 reports on Feb. 1 alone. The highest record of website views on one rainy day topped 100,000.
'People are really getting into it; they go right into the flood and report the depth [of floodwater] and even take a selfie,' Turpin said.
The map, Turpin said, is also useful for motorists aiming to get around the capital, especially on rainy days.
'If you want to go to an area, check the tweet and the road [on Petajakarta.org]. We map two kinds of tweets: confirmed and unconfirmed,' he said.
Petajakarta.org social media coordinator Fitria Sudirman cited that most tweets, albeit unconfirmed, were generally reliable.
'Thus far, we haven't received fake reports during heavy rain. People might tweet jokes about floods, but they don't fake reports. For example, in North Jakarta one tweeted about a flood. Another tweet will come with pictures and stuff so you can easily find out,' she said.
Information compiled could also be utilized by the city administration. The Jakarta Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) uses the reports and map to monitor the flood situation around Jakarta before contacting local leaders in the reported areas to confirm the citizens' reports and taking action.
The BPBD will then upload its version of the map according to citizens' reports and the information it collected from relevant authorities at the subdistrict and district levels.
Despite its reliability, however, the BPBD version of the map is updated every few hours because of the confirmation process.
'The [BPBD] map is updated every six hours, while ours, every 60 seconds. It is more real-time so it is useful for navigation purposes,' Turpin said.
Turpin also warned that the worst has yet to come.
'We have not yet had as much rain. I would caution Jakarta citizens to remain vigilant as the peak monsoon rain has not yet arrived,' he said.
Meteorology, Climatology, Geophysics Agency information head Harry Tirto said that the peak of the rainy season was predicted for between January and February. He also called on Greater Jakarta residents to be cautious as heavy rain often came during the night and continued until morning during this year's rainy season.
'It's when people are less aware because they are resting,' he told the Post.
Harry also encouraged residents to update themselves with weather forecasts published on the official BMKG website, bmkg.go.id, because 'we should be cautious about daily rain distribution,' he said.
When the rainy season ends, petajakarta.org will focus on research projects on waste tracking and elevation mapping.
'We want to do integrated testing with the BPBD on tracking waste and some other map-related activities,' Turpin said.
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