MIT map offers real-time, crowd-sourced flood reporting during Hurricane Irma (MIT News)

Spreading the word about this valuable flood-response resource:

As Hurricane Irma bears down on the U.S., the MIT Urban Risk Lab has launched a free, open-source platform that will help residents and government officials track flooding in Broward County, Florida. The platform, RiskMap.us, is being piloted to enable both residents and emergency managers to obtain better information on flooding conditions in near-real time.

Residents affected by flooding can add information to the publicly available map via popular social media channels. Using Twitter, Facebook, and Telegram, users submit reports by sending a direct message to the Risk Map chatbot. The chatbot replies to users with a one-time link through which they can upload information including location, flood depth, a photo, and description.

Residents and government officials can view the map to see recent flood reports to understand changing flood conditions across the county. Tomas Holderness, a research scientist in the MIT Department of Architecture, led the design of the system. “This project shows the importance that citizen data has to play in emergencies,” he says. “By connecting residents and emergency managers via social messaging, our map helps keep people informed and improve response times.”

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Image from MIT Urban Risk Lab: Using RiskMap.us from the MIT Urban Risk Lab, residents of Broward County, Florida, can use social media to upload flood reports that are aggregated into a publicly available map that tracks flooding during Hurricane Irma.

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Curt Newton's picture

RiskMap has recently been

RiskMap was rolled out last week in Chennai India, at the onset of autumn monsoon season, and is producing some initial beneficial results.

The Times of India reports:

"We've had 250 reports since we launched it. At any given point, about 13,000 users were online during the periods of heavy rain. By visiting the site, information such as level of flooding, blocked drains, open manholes, fallen trees and even receding water can be shared along with pictures. There have also been reports calling for immediate assistance, which we would pass on to corporation engineers," says Satyarupa Shekhar, who heads CAG's work on urban governance and resilience, and is working on the aspects of media relations and community outreach for the project along with MIT team."

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Rick Shankman's picture

From my earlier comment...

From my earlier comment...

"... without coordination with FEMA and Florida county EM/EOCs, this tool will be useless."

Now, from The Times of India Article...

"Deployed in partnership with Chennai-based not-for-profit organisation Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (CAG), this browser-based app aims at sharing information on flooding and help with monsoon preparedness.

... The platform has been designed also so that public agencies can push alerts on the map.

... There have also been reports calling for immediate assistance, which we would pass on to corporation engineers,' says Satyarupa Shekhar, who heads CAG's work on urban governance and resilience, and is working on the aspects of media relations and community outreach for the project along with MIT team."

Thanks for finally listening Curt!

See... Chennai NewsX TV Story on RiskMap

See... 2nd Chennai NewsX TV Story on RiskMap

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Rick Shankman's picture

Not a single participant or

Not a single participant or entry into the system!  Not one.

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Curt Newton's picture

Rick, as a FL resident, maybe

Rick, as a FL resident, maybe you can help us understand what actually happened flood-wise in Broward County (the location of this attempted pilot test).

Didn't Irma's shift toward the west spare Broward County from the worst storm impacts?

My understanding was lots of wind, downed power lines, and plenty of rain - but maybe there wasn't much flood there to respond to?  Just curious.

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Curt Newton's picture

Damn, clearly Miami area took

Damn, clearly Miami area took a hit too! Thanks for clarifying this ... I think non-local coverage was dominated by the message "it could have been way worse had the track not shifted"

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Rick Shankman's picture

Yes Curt, our Headquarters is

Yes Curt, our Headquarters is in Broward County.  This fact made the ignoring of my warnings about the ineffectiveness of the MIT concept even more insulting.

 As I had said at the time, once safe to do so, local media would provide detailed coverage of the flooding.

In direct answer to your question...

"Didn't Irma's shift towards the west spare Broward County from the worst storm impacts?

My understanding was lots of wind, downed power lines, and plenty of rain - but maybe there wasn't much flood there to respond to?"

See... WSVN 7 local coverage of flooding in Broward

See also... Tampa Street Flooding Map - updated through the 911 system.

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Rick Shankman's picture

Curt, "RiskMap" is the name

Curt, "RiskMap" is the name of a longstanding FEMA product... https://www.fema.gov/risk-mapping-assessment-and-planning-risk-map

Admittedly, the FEMA product is not very user friendly, but without coordination with FEMA and Florida county EM/EOCs, this tool will be useless.

Try this tool (in beta test)... Common Sense 2.0

Once it's safe to survey the area, the local news will be covering the flooding situation extensively.

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