“To the citizens and residents of Bukit Duri, do not give up in the face of floods! When the floods come, unplug all cable, save important documents and jewelry, and make your family and yourself secure” — AtmaGo User Comments from February, 2015.
On February 10, the Wall Street Journal reported that heavy rains had inundated the capital city of Indonesia.
What they didn’t report is that the day before, neighborhoods such as Kebon Pala in East Jakarta and Bukit Duri in South Jakarta were already experiencing problems. How can we be sure? Because AtmaGo users had reported problems — and posted photos, like the image below — 24 hours before the WSJ report was posted.
Two days later, AtmaGo users posted, “be careful guys, still flooded in Glodok” and to stay clear of the area around the Manggari Flood Tunnel. The good news is that by February 12, users were posting that the “floods begin to recede” and that West Jakarta was drivable again.
Flooding is a perennial problem in Indonesia and existing communication systems are not well used. In 2002, 2007 and 2008 floods inundated almost 60% of the poorest communities in the city. Among the 72,000 households at highest risk in Jakarta, a survey found that the Jakarta Flood Early Warning System had failed to reach the most vulnerable communities.
Although flooding is never good news, we are excited to report that the new version of AtmaGo.com has created a way for people living in urban poor neighborhoods to share strategies, exchange information and solutions, and build the resilience of their community.
Since we launched the expanded version of AtmaGo in January, nearly 400 users have created over 1,000 posts and replies, which have attracted 13,400 pageviews. Users have posted ideas on staying healthy, promoted educational opportunities, listed items for sale and posted complaints about public transportation. And users are finding our new site engaging — over half have become members who have created accounts, provided email addresses, and get regular daily updates.
Why build a hyper-local community app? Because we know that people are far more likely to survive serious disasters when, in the words of Nicole Lurie, President Obama’s Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, “they have good social networks and connections.” We also found, through our field work late last year, that although Indonesians are avid users of Twitter and Facebook, they are hungry for local news and information and lack reliable digital channels to share it.
Given the level of engagement we have been seeing and the positive feedback we have gotten, we know we are on the right track — but of course, we are also continuing to learn from our users.