Town Watching for Disaster Management

Walking around? Everyone loves it!
Walking around while helping disaster relief? Let’s town watching… !

Last March, on 22-23th of March, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) Indonesia was invited Indonesia Disaster Resilient Foundation (Yayasan Tangguh Bencana Indonesia/YTBI) to assist their Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) cadres in a training entitled “Participatory Mapping for Hazard Maps Development through GIS / OSM Approach and Town Watching Methods“. What town watching is? Simply, town watching can be defined as walking around in the city. It is like an ordinary foot walk, but you may also observe and  examine  your environment, take some notes and photos. What a simple and fun activity! However, town watching can be applied for disaster risk reduction. According to researchs, people who survive in a disaster, commonly are people who recognize their area well. This brings  Indonesian Institute of Sciences (Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia/LIPI) adopt town watching method as one of their program/research in disaster relief. LIPI define town watching for disaster management as a program for people who live in an area such as  citizens, children, or students; by walking around in an area to observe and examine any dangerous points/places if a disaster strikes, as well as facilities for safety; then discuss with the community to take action solve the problem and prevent the hazard getting worse. Figure 1 shows us  the steps of town watching for disaster management.

Why do we do town watching?

                    It is good for us to practice town watching because  commonly, people who survive in a disaster are  (1) those who regularly conduct evacuation drills, (2) those who are able to recognize and understand hazards, vulnerabilities, and risks in their area, and by doing town watching (3) local community are able to take action by ther  own strength and capacity if disaster come, instead of  just wait and rely on help from outside parties that usually requires a lot of time.

What is the purpose of doing town watching?

                    (1) Increase community awareness related to  disaster management, (2) identify the vulnerabilities of the  environment and surroundings, (3) identify capacity / resources owned by the community that can be used in the event of disaster, (4) identify main problems in the community and find a solution to solve the problems.

Town watching in Jakarta

Last year, LIPI in partnership with YTBI has implemented town watching methods in some areas prone to earthquake or tsunami. This year, for the first time, town watching will be implemeted in urban areas, Jakarta, related to flood risk reduction. This activity began with a training followed by  youth from 6 villages (Pinangsia, North Duri, Kota Bambu Utara, Kota Bambu Selatan, South Kembangan, Rawa Bunga, and Klender Village) incorporated in an organization called Youth Ambassador. In the training which takes place on March 22 to 23,  Triyono, speakers from LIPI explained what town watching is, the objectives, benefits, and steps to do town watching. Speakers from government presentatives, Regional Disaster Management Agency  (Badan Penanggulangan Bencana Daerah/BPBD) of Jakarta, also invited to reviews public facilities map compare to the existing conditions (does the map has been completed and updated?). And the last, to integrate participatory learning with the use of technologies to obtain an accurate results; participants are trained t use Global Positioning System (GPS) delivered by the speaker from  Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) Indonesia. HOT Indonesia also encouraged the participants to contribute mapping in OSM.

Not only learned theoretical things in the classroom, participants also practice a simulations of town watching in RW 03, Pinangsia Village. First, participants practice field survey and  observe their environment. What should be observed? (1) places that affected by any disaster in the past or prone to any disaster in the future such as flood, fire, crime, etc. (2) places or objects which are expected to lead to any hazard/disaster such as blocked drains due tu garbage, malfunction pump, (3) places, objects, or public facilities that can help us survive in a disaster. If participants found one of those objects, participants should do these following things (1) capture the coordinates (waypoint marking) of the places / objects, (2) took some photos with polaroid camera and mark the location (of the photos) on the map, and finally (3) record attribute data of the objects in the field survey form. After  field survey activities has finished, participants move to the next step of town watching, preparing sketch for discussion with the community. To make it, participants drew the map / sketch of their survey area in a wider paper size (A1 or A0 size), then put the photos that have been collected in the field into the right position where the photos captured.  Finally, the most important step, discussion with community, to explore the problems discovered and how to solve them (including determining  IDP camp and evacuation route).

What is the relation between OSM and town watching?

Activities in town watching are very closely linked to the maps. As a participatory mapping platform, OSM allows the community to map their area  prior to field survey. Thus, people involved in town watching  activities will have a better preliminary understanding about the area. OSM also could be useful and helpful to be used as printed map to be taken during field survey instread of using sketch, because OSM map provide the maps / drawing in a more accurate position. Participants only need  to draw new objects (such as roads and buildings) that have not been mapped in OSM, and make some additional notes. See, town watching will be much easier if collaborated with OSM. It’s time to practice!

GIS Trainer @Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT) Indonesia

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