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Pitch

Proposal intends to develop mobile platform that will allow users to report information about unfolding flood disaster using mobile devices.


Description

Summary

Nepal lies in one of the most fragile eco-regions of the world and is prone to the natural and human induced disasters such as flood, landslide, fire, extremes weather events including thunderstorm, epidemic, cold wave, Glacier Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) and earthquake. 

In recent years, disasters are increasing in both frequency and magnitude of impact.Complexity of present day disasters, the community preparedness for disasters is also getting complex. Stakeholders working on disaster are struggling to disseminate updated information and knowledge to the communities' whereas capacity of community is falling behind in overall Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). Most of the technological tools that can ease the understanding are focused at the center and communities are left behind. The first tool to strengthen communities towards DRR could be information itself through their conscious participation (Aalst et. el 2008).

Indigenous Knowledge (IK) has been practiced in communities over a time. A growing awareness of the value of IK has prompted calls for its use within DRR (Hiwasaki et. el,2014). The use of IK alongside scientific knowledge can be integrated to reduce community vulnerability to disasters. The most convenient communication that already exists is the mobile communication technology, which has already breakthrough the fundamentals of development.

The devastating Nepal earthquake that took place on April 25, 2015 has shown the best example of how crowd sourcing works and its implication in rescue, response and relief and report the post disaster scenario. The used technology was social networking sites through mobile. That has also increased the community understanding on how crowed sourcing works and what are the benefits of it during disaster. Though it was sudden and random and if properly managed and directed it can help the local authorities to work effectively and efficiently during and after disaster.


What actions do you propose?

Background

World Bank (2005) classify Nepal as one of the global ‘hot-spots’ for natural disasters. According to the data produced by Ministry of Home Affairs Nepal, shows that about 1000 people die in Nepal every year due to the natural disaster events; about 300 deaths occur only due to floods and landslides. Similarly, Nepal suffers a direct loss of an average of nearly 1208 million Nepali rupees per year. So there is a clear and sound need of disaster risk reduction management system for effective early warning system.

Disaster Nepal-Mobile Application

The Disaster Nepal aims to work as a two-way system that delivers crucial information to community as well as receives information on unfolding flood disasters from them, which can then be shared with community at risk. This mobile platform allows collection of data through crowd sourcing with the use of mobile application. The goal of this app is to create pro-communities reliable, flood disaster alerting network by combining indigenous and scientific knowledge. It is expected, this application efficiently disseminates disaster related information reducing the lead time during and before disaster and improving DRR (Yap 2011).

How Does it work?

All information on unfolding flood disasters will be collected from crowd through their concise participation using mobile application. The task of gathering unfolding flood disaster information consists of answering one to ten or more objective questions based on indigenous knowledge on weather prediction, community experience on past flood events and current status of indicative parameters of flood disasters such as rainfall, water level in river and community. Some of the examples questions for flood disaster are as follows;

  • How high will the flood reach and when?
  • What is the intensity of rain?
  • When the rainfall started?
  • Which area is mostly affected by flooding?
  • What is the amount of rainfall?
  • What are the chances of rainfall will stop?
  • Does rainfall will continue?
  • Are water levels rising?

In this project, we will apply an approach that uses mobile and web based platform to involve communities to participate in disaster management through crowd sourcing. Once that information is submitted, the mobile app sends its data and the phone’s location to relevant agency such as District Emergency Operation Centre (DEOC), Nepal Red Cross, Nepal Army, Nepal Police etc. at the same time. The system will be dynamic with real time update as soon as the information is submitted through mobile application to web platform. The mobile application will be developed in a such a way that user are able to report information about unfolding flood disaster and also view information about already verified disaster in web platform. The web portal allows the user to view information on reported disasters as a list or maps. The information will be customized to allow the users to view information as thumbnail by selecting the location, coordinate and date. Relevant agencies will be able to use the reported disaster in an interactive web based Google earth platform with specific information of disaster. The mobile and web platform will be developed in such a way that user can view disaster reporting, getting alerts and viewing already reported information.

When the disaster information is reached the system, the interactive platform integrates all the incoming information and creates as seamless interactions with tools (i.e. artificial intelligence) within these platforms that allows the users to acts as sensors of collecting information and relay them to the system. Then the information is verified and actionable message disseminated to the wider audience to get alerts and view reports. The general public will then be able to receive information about unfolding disaster events. Users can receive alerts as SMS, through mobile number. Noticeably, particular villages/communities will receive the information from same disaster risk areas or watershed. Web and mobile platform will be developed to assign the focal point who can be local authorities to ensure information can be verified before action and sending the alerts/message. 

The disaster warning system requires consistent and constant monitoring of meteorological conditions, hydrological conditions and real time monitoring of disasters incidents. This mobile application could be coupled with real-time meteorological and hydrological stations (If available) and once an event exceeds a given threshold, a warning message will be issued. Warning alert message will be sent in mobile application in smart mobile phone and mobile message in non-smart phone in same area from that reports are coming or flood risk areas. The message alert will contain specific place of flood disaster area and suggested advisory message and emergency contact numbers. Further information can be added as per the requirement.The system will be developed with three major information blocks i.e. submit report, get alerts and view reports.

It is important that appropriate actions are communicated to the public through awareness raising campaigns, prior to an emergency. Coupling this measure with response contingency plan will improve the effectiveness of disaster warnings such as the provision of evacuation routes and emergency shelters, and emergency contacts.

The detail plan of action is as below,

Review of existing related materials: The framework for this project will be developed through a systematic review of literature climate change, disaster, ICT and related issues.  Three data sources will be used: a) peer-reviewed literature i.e. journal papers ii) grey literature including working papers, organizational and project reports and case studies iii) national adaptation, strategy documents and national communications (such as NAPAs, climate change action plans, Disaster Reports; and national communications to the UNFCCC).

Disaster data will be obtained from concerned ministry to analyze trends disaster scenario all over the Nepal. Other secondary data will be collected from relevant government institutions and past studies.  

Consultation at National and District Levels:Consultations with selected government ministries and departments, INGOs, national NGOs, and civil society groups will be conducted through informal meetings to reinforce data and study findings before finalizing results.  The consultation will also discuss policies, strategies, programs, projects, future plans, governance and issues related to climate change, disaster and ICT.   Similar consultation will be carried out with district level line agencies, NGOs, civil society groups and other relevant agencies and individuals working in the district headquarters. Checklists will be prepared and used to make the meetings efficient and objective oriented.

Mobile application prototype development: Different published and unpublished resources will be reviewed at the beginning of the project to get the overview on the project activities. Similarly, different data sources will be taken and analyzed to see the disaster scenario. The first mobile application prototype will be developed and shared among the core team members and received the feedback. All the feedbacks will be analyzed, database will be checked, error and bug will be identified and then mobile application system will amended for piloting and verification.

Piloting and testing of prototype: Prototype will be piloted and verified on the field creating a dummy disaster and verifier. Discussion will held to share the prototype with local stakeholders and local government authority and feedbacks, suggestions will be taken for further improvement. Base on the field verification and suggestion and comments prototype will be upgraded and updated integrating most possible comments and suggestions. The rigorous field verification, monitoring and testing will be done and comments, suggestions and cases will be collected from the field for improvement in the system.

Empowerment of community members:The key challenge as well as the strength of this project is the community members who are left behind in the current development process. Community members from project site will be invited to participate in the disaster information-sharing workshop where selected members can actively participate and lead the process of information sharing and retrieval based on mobile platform. The members will be trained to capable to use the mobile-based application for updating and retrieval of the information. The targeted participates are members of local club, community user groups, youth club, mothers club and community forestry user group, school teacher, youth clubs. Altogether 100/100 community members will be trained over the project period. The participants will be selected in heterogeneous way assuring the participation of women, youth, marginalized and disadvantage groups. 

Development of web platform: All the data analysis will be done in this process is dynamic. The web development for risk/knowledge dissemination will be done. Along with that domain registration will be done. The web portal allows the user to view information on reported disasters as a list or maps. The information has been customized to allow the users to view information as thumbnail by selecting the location, coordinate and date. 

Presentation and demonstration of mobile application: Periodic interactions will be carried with stakeholders  and feed backs will be sought. The key findings of the  project will be presented in a national-level workshop organized in Kathmandu. The feedback received from these workshops will be used in refining the project. 

Final development of mobile application: The team then collected and collated the feedbacks, comments, suggestion and errors to fix the problem and moved for the further development. The team will develop the final mobile application system. 


Who will take these actions?

The project team will work closely with nodal ministry; Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Population and Environment throughout the project period through formal and informal interaction. Similarly, the project will seek and build the relationship with National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC). 

The project will work closely District Emergency Operation Centre (DEOC), District Administration Office, District Development Committee (DDC), Village Development Committee (VDC), District Disaster Relief Committee (DDRC), Local Disaster Management Committee (LDMC), local non-governmental organizations, local media, relevant stakeholder and communities and relevant district offices at local level.  The project will work with other organizations and projects in Nepal to ensure complementarity, promote synergies among donor programs, and share results and lessons.   

Primarily, The Thin Page Pvt. Ltd will work in the development and implementation of project in official collaboration with Department of Hydrology and Meteorology. 

The Thin Page is a research and development cum consulting and capacity building institution based in Kathmandu dedicated to assisting the private and public sectors in environmental issues. The Thin Page provides expert services to help resolve the issues of environment to with the ultimate goal of quality outcome. The vision of The Thin Page is to become pioneer service company through its quality, capacity and leadership. The This Page’s in house skilled team of professionals provide comprehensive service on climate change data management, verification, mobile application development and module development in this project. 

The Department of Hydrology and Meteorology is an organization under the Ministry of Environment, Government of Nepal. They have a offices in different parts of country for monitoring of river hydrology, climate, agro-meteorology, sediment, air quality, water quality, snow hydrology, glaciology, and wind and solar energy.


Where will these actions be taken?

The Karnali and Babai River basin is one of the most important watershed of Nepal. Karnali and Babai River are snow or glacier-fed rivers and originates from the Himalaya. As the number of days with intensive rainfall has also been found to be increasing in Nepal which is potential increase in flood and landslide in future. Heavy rainfall in upstream areas with soil erosion is responsible for foods in downstream. Floods and landslides are the highly rated hazards in Nepal and case is same for Karnali and Babai River basin.

The disaster warning system requires consistent and constant monitoring of meteorological conditions,hydrological conditions and real time monitoring of disasters incidents. Department of Hydrology and Meteorology is working on monitoring of Karnali river and its major tributaries at the watershed level. Early warning through crowed sourcing could be coupled with real-time meteorological and hydrological stations and once an event exceeds a given threshold, a warning will be issued. This will help to reach out to un/under served areas from real monitoring of river level and rainfall. Along with that, it will increased the response rate  and reduces the lead time in disaster events. 

Map : Karnali and Babai River basin (Source:Practical Action, 2016)


What are other key benefits?

The mobile wireframe can be an important tool for early identification of disaster in Nepal seeing rapid growth of mobile and internet technology and services. The project has following key benefits;

  • Provides wireframe and source code of the web/mobile- based application.
  • Empower the selected communities to use web/mobile-based application to regularly update and retrieve disaster related information in their community on a real time basis.
  • Enhance capability of relevant stakeholders (Central/Local government, I/NGOs, media etc.) for information sharing and dissemination through web/mobile based geospatial tool.
  • Strengthen the communities with enhanced access to information and promote their adaptation with conscious participation.
  • Support organizations by enhancing the planning process in Local Adaptation Plan for Action (LAPA), DRR and adaptation planning.


What are the proposal’s costs?

The major cost of this project is hardware and mobile application development, its improvisation as per the government existing system and ground verification. Along with that hardware component takes substantial amount. Other costs includes, cost of meetings, data collection, training and field workshops.

Total cost of this project is 113,500.00 (All costs are in USD) and proposed for two years period. The detail breakdown is as follows;

  • Human resource (Cost of project manager, mobile application developer, software engineer and data analyst): 34000.00
  • Disaster and climate change experts (Flood disaster management expert, meteorologist, hydrologist, soil scientist, GIS expert and climate change modeling expert): 50000.00
  • Hardware/equipment (Mobile and computers, GPS, Internet device, Mobile sims card, cloud service and data space): 9500.00  
  • Field expanses (Local level consultation and workshop, training, meetings and testing and verification): 5500.00
  • Workshop and consultation (Meeting and consultation at national level, sharing meetings, government collaboration): 4500.00
  • Administration and Management cost: 10000.00


Time line

The proposed time line for the implementation of the project will be two year (two full cycle of highest and least rainfall period). The project will start after having a preliminary consensus with concerned ministry from Government of Nepal. After this, other two year will be spent on development, ground verification, data analysis, community empowerment and documentation. 

The proposed actions are as below,

  • The framework for this mobile application will be developed through a systematic review of literature on disaster, mobile application and technology and related issues.  
  • Consultations with selected government ministries and departments, INGOs, national NGOs, and civil society groups will be conducted through informal meetings to reinforce mobile application before finalization.  
  • The prototype of mobile wireframe will be developed based on already developed framework. Regular consultation will be done during this period.
  • The prototype will be then tested and verified on ground to check the reliability, accuracy, error, overall design, community interest and practicality.
  • Based on test and verification, mobile wireframe will be further improvised and developed. 
  • The community will be empowered through hands on exercise on its use and benefits. The target group includes local government officials, local people, community based organization and community members at this phase. 
  • Upon completion of mobile application, that will be uploaded in play store (Android version/Google play store) through public event. Along with that data base center will be setup for proper monitoring and regular system check. 


Related proposals

Early warning system in disaster risk managementMC and PA (2010) have identified early warning Systems must be comprehensible and accessible for all user, community involvement should be ensured in all aspects of disaster risk reduction planning.

ICT and early warning system: According to MOSTE (2015) integrating IK  using modern technology for early warning system can be effective for climate resilience. Disaster risk reduction can be improved using mobile application.

End-to-end early warning system: The end-to-end multi-hazards early warning systems approach is the provision of timely and effective information, through identified institutions.

IK and early warning system: IK has a pivotal role in managing the disasters in the absence of the scientific knowledge and vice-versa. 

Developing locally-relevant and actionable messages: Communities in disaster risk areas need to be prepared to receive and use the enhanced forecast products. 


References

Aalst M.K., Cannon T. & Burton I (2008); Community level adaptation to climate change: The potential role of participatory community risk assessment, Global Environmental Change, Vol. 18, Iss 1, pp 165–179

Baidya S., Shrestha, M. and Sheikh M.M.(2008), Journal of Hydrology and Meteorology, Vol. 5, No. 1, SOHAM Nepal

Hiwasaki L, Luna E., Syamsidik& Shaw R,(2014);Process for integrating local and indigenous knowledge with science for hydro-meteorological disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation in costal and small island communities, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction , 10 (2014), pp 15-27  

Yap N.T. (2011); Disaster Management, Developing Country Communities & Climate Change: The Role of ICTs, Centre for Development Informatics Institute for Development Policy and Management, University of Manchester, UK