With the damage of Hurricane Irma settling, rescue and clean-up operations continue in Florida. Understanding which areas are flooded and sharing that info is a challenge, but according to a post on TheVerge MIT is on it. Their Urban Risk Lab has created RiskMap for reporting flood data using a simple chatbot that allows for input by social media. So, anyone with Facebook, Twitter or Telegram can easily submit info including location, depth of water, a photo and description. For now the platform is just available for Broward County in Florida.
Although this open source platform was just introduced during this hurricane, there are future plans in the works.
The project is part of a collaboration between the county and the lab. MIT tested out the system in Indonesia during a flood earlier this year, which saw 300,000 users make reports via an integration with Uber’s App, and is working to launch a similar pilot in India later this fall. The team also hopes to roll the map out to other US counties and additional social media platforms “in the near future,” and is looking to use it as a platform to push out alerts from emergency officials.
This appears to be a useful tool for real-time updates, although people will need to act swiftly before a power outage takes away the means to input the info. I’m hoping the lab will consider adding additional data input for environmental hazards like floating toxic debris and oil spills. Additional symbols for those items could be very helpful on the easy-to-share map. As coastal communities start to share best practices for hurricane preparedness, this is one item that may be worth discussing.