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

MIT News: “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,, 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.”…

The Urban Risk Lab also piloted the system in Indonesia — where the project is called, or “Map Disaster” — during a large flood event on Feb. 20, 2017.

During the flooding, over 300,000 users visited the public website in 24 hours, and the map was integrated into the Uber application to help drivers avoid flood waters. The project in Indonesia is supported by a grant from USAID and is working in collaboration with the Indonesian Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Pacific Disaster Centre, and the Humanitarian Open Street Map Team.

The Urban Risk Lab team is also working in India on….(More)”.