It has been more than two weeks since the tragic floods in Malaysia began just after mid-December 2021, but there seems to be no end in sight yet.
More recently, Johor has been heavily affected by floods, with almost 4K people now displaced. Residents of the coastal areas of mainland Malaysia have also been advised to be alert for high tides during this week.
The government is now working to complete an early flood warning system called the National Flood Forecast and Alert System (PRABN) for 2023. It claims that this will give Malaysians a two-day warning before a predicted disaster.
But we have seen that our colleagues in Malaysia are not the ones who sit idle while their colleagues try to recover from the damage caused by the floods or continue to face the phenomenon.
Thus, Muaz Kamel, director (coastal and hydraulic) of the engineering consultancy Dr. Nik & Associates (DNA) together with the team of Ifcon technology they have introduced a place called BencanaBanjir.com.
The site was created in a day and the team continues to improve the system.
Meet the team
This initiative appears to be led by Muaz, who is a professional engineer with experience in water and hydraulics-related jobs in countries below sea level, such as the Netherlands.
At DNA, he and his team conduct research on flood disasters both nationally and abroad. Although flood research was his forte, he even admitted that the December 2021 floods shocked his team.
It broke the expectations and data records they had. According to his research, a phenomenon of this scale only occurs once every 100 years. But it is likely that due to climate change, these natural disasters are beginning to become more unpredictable.
Therefore, being able to gather and analyze current data is important for the team to create frameworks and help government authorities develop a stronger infrastructure for the future.
Although the authorities are collecting data using their own methods, obtaining information directly from the affected communities is much faster and can be more accurate, if done in good faith.
What’s he doing?
The goal of BencanaBanjir.com is to collect crucial data from those on the ground in flooded areas in order to create a more accurate and authentic analytical database of floods.
Once the equipment has this data, it can be shared with authorities to improve planning to reduce and prevent fatalities, damage and loss related to flooding.
Basically, the site is a collective database and, as of December 26, 2021 (3 days after its launch), it had collected more than 500 reports of the victims.
How it works?
If you are in a place affected by floods, here are the 5 easy steps.
- Go to BencanaBanjir.com, which is available in computer and mobile browsers.
- Select your language: Bahasa Melayu, English, Mandarin or Tamil.
- Define the location of the flood incident you want to report on the map.
- Click ‘Report incident’ and fill in the required information and include relevant images.
- Once you’ve reported the incident, you’ll receive an SMS message to verify your report.
On the map, you can see multicolored dots indicating the number of reports in an area, and click on each to see more details.
A new feature that was added just yesterday is the warning and alert system that uses data from the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (JPS) and translates them into simple map indicators.
At a glance, this gives users an immediate idea of what areas are seeing dangerous water levels, what the current state of the floods is and more, so that they can make the necessary plans.
Damage is already done, but future incidents can be prevented
Climate change activist Shaqib Shahril has estimated that the total losses caused by the recent floods could amount to at least 20 billion RM.
This amount is based on estimates of damage to homes and residential areas, as well as businesses and industries.
But the monsoon season has not yet reached its peak, and experts will need more data before finalizing the financial implications of the floods later.
Based on the current data that BencanaBanjir.com has been collecting, reports that the shared losses have given the team an average loss of RM 40,000 per location. Although many reports still do not have a number of shared losses, the figure is likely to be higher.
BencanaBanjir.com is a good first start to make flood data accessible and easier for Malaysians to understand, but again, apart from allowing us to plan evacuation or clean-up efforts, there is no much more that the public can do with the data.
The government and its responsible agencies have a responsibility to use the data and create better frameworks and infrastructure to prevent a repeat of what happened on December 16, 2021.
- More information on BencanaBanjir.com here.
- If you are looking for a fundraiser for flooding, go for it here. To get an idea of how you can volunteer effectively in flooded areas, read on that.
Featured Image Credit: BencanaBanjir.com