CogniCity OSS is a free and open source software for community-led disaster response and recovery in highly dense urban environments. Designed, tested, and operationally deployed in Southeast Asia’s monsoon flooding, the system uses a novel humanitarian chatbot model to crowdsource disaster information through social media channels and then gathers, sorts, and displays these solicited reports in real-time on a web-based, mobile-centric map. The system operates as critical urban infrastructure that enables robust, reliable information sharing and communication among residents, government agencies, and first responders.
Following successful city-scale deployments, CogniCity.Info was expanded to the national scale in Indonesia and developed for additional hazards including volcanoes, earthquakes, typhoons, fires, and severe weather. It was also piloted in Metro Manila and then deployed for all hazards at the national scale in the Philippines. Other test instances are currently being developed in Vietnam, Hong Kong, and India. As a crowdsourcing system that goes far beyond passive data mining, CogniCity.Info is a proven, enterprise-level software for soliciting disaster information and displaying heterogeneous data in an accessible format, as well as durable infrastructure for climate change adaptation.
In 2020, the M+ Museum of Visual Culture acquired the source code of CogniCity.Info for its collection of 21st century urban design and commissioned a film about the project. To raise awareness about open source infrastructure for climate change adaptation during COP26, M+ has generously allowed us to screen the short film The Same River, Twice online. Please share it with anyone who might be interested in community-led humanitarian coordination and climate change adaptation. You can also visit M+ in Hong Kong to see the two-channel film installation in person!
CogniCity.Info listens to social media for any posts about disasters, effectively converting these platforms into a public information gathering system. Once a keyword is detected, it programmatically invites users to share more detailed reports. The system organizes and displays this information on a free digital map in real-time for residents and first responders. It also automatically integrates information from various government agencies, including infrastructure performance data and official disaster updates, to create a comprehensive map of impact, need, response, and recovery.
Information is the most important resource in a disaster. However, decision-support tools are typically available to only a small group of individuals within municipal, national, or international agencies. CogniCity.Info has revolutionized disaster preparedness, response, and recovery by democratizing decision-support infrastructure and making it freely available for all residents. When disaster professionals and urban residents work together, and when residential knowledge about local conditions is integrated into disaster response efforts, communities can convert the noise of social media into life-saving humanitarian infrastructure.