The Philippines is a large and extremely flood prone country. The Philippine Red Cross Society has a complex challenge in keeping the overview of when and where it floods. While they need to know this fast and detailed to deploy resources.
FloodTags developed software to monitor floods by using online media sources, by the official national language (Tagalog). It detects floods extremely fast. With it:
Red Cross is able to detect floods much earlier: Before, it could take a long time for a new event to be identified, hours to sometimes even days. This while the country is very large and many flood incidents occur. With FloodTags they can now detect new flood within seconds or minutes.
Red Cross is able to get better and more frequent updates on the situation on-the-ground (situational awareness): Before, the Red Cross received information from their volunteers each 8 hours (in addition to their people scanning the internet manually). By using online media, FloodTags produces real-time custom reports that are updated each ten minutes. By combining the data with a digital elevation model, FloodTags also shows an indication of the flood extent and flood impact.
With this new information, the Red Cross is able to anticipate more quickly and geographically more precise, based on more facts from the ground. This makes decision making on the logistics and resources management more efficient (which involves 102 chapters of the Red Cross and 2 million volunteers on the ground, spread throughout the country).
The project was winner of the prestigious "Challenge Fund" of the World Bank.
This is relevant for any disaster manager that has to deal with floods. As the manager of the Operation Centre Manilla says:
"On many occasions the tool has proved its value. FloodTags alerts us of new floods very fast, which is crucial to initiate our response activities. While during disasters we can use it the tool to monitor floods closely and take appropriate mitigating actions. This system verifies what our volunteers are reporting from the ground. We get information faster than before which is crucial for the organization’s decision-makers as to where we must prioritize the deployment of our limited resources. Floodtags helps us deliver our formula to an effective response which is the combination of volunteers + logistics + information technology for us to be always first, always ready, always there for the most vulnerable."