CogniCity 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 crowd-source 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 deployments in Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya and Semarang, CogniCity was expanded to the national scale in Indonesia and developed for additional hazards including volcanoes, earthquakes, typhoons, fires, and severe weather. Major pilot deployments are also underway in the Philippines and Vietnam, and numerous other test instances have been developed and deployed in other cities to examine the potential for further development. As a crowdsourcing system that goes far beyond passive data mining, CogniCity is a proven, enterprise-level software product for soliciting emergency information and displaying heterogeneous data in a synthetic, accessible format.

In 2020, the M+ Museum of Visual Culture acquired the source code of CogniCity OSS 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, M+ has generously allowed us to share the short film The Same River, Twice online for the duration of COP26 (31 Oct – 12 Nov 2021)—so please share it with anyone who might be interested in community-led humanitarian coordination and response. (After COP26, you'll have to visit M+ in Hong Kong to see the two-channel film installation in person!)

The vast majority of people in Southeast Asia access the internet through their internet-connected mobile devices; in fact, although the region has a population of 650 million, those residents own over 750 million smartphones, making it one of the most densely populated and well connected areas on the planet. CogniCity is built for mobile users and its design optimizes the affordances of mobile-centric information access and sharing.