The Role of Open Data in Application of Participatory-Based Approach for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)
Sat, 24 Nov 2018 || By Ellyaty Priyanka

Introduction

            The contribution of the local community is increasingly acknowledged in the trajectory of disaster risk reduction (DRR). Many argue that in formulating DRR grand strategy, it is indispensable to incorporate local people and community especially from the area that are prone to and affected by a disaster.[1] The tradition that puts prime importance exclusively on top-down approach and command-and-control has received criticism from scholars and practitioners working on disaster management, especially the non-governmental organizations.[2] This shifting paradigm, however, does not come from a groundless basis. Scholarly work has provided empirical evidence in which local knowledge and participation played a meaningful role and consequently, the failure to embedding local community to disaster management could bring detrimental effects and leaving affected populations more vulnerable and disempowered.[3] Japan[4] and Mozambique[5] are examples of countries who actively show attempts in balancing top-down and bottom-up methods by establishing a repository and dissemination platform to general public[6].

            The questions would be; what is the appropriate avenue that enables greater participation for the public in the DRR strategy? Which aspects are necessary to improve the utilization of this particular tool? This article will argue open data as a prescription to a participatory-based approach and discuss its merit in giving room for the local population to actively participate with the DRR system and decision-making process related to it.

Q1:  Why is it necessary to integrate the local community to DRR roadmap?

            In designing an ideal DRR, top-down approach and scientific knowledge are not sufficient. Local community possessed the first-hand experience and nuanced relationship with their surrounding and people nearby, in contrast to the scientific concept which is gained through formal methods of education, thus in nature tends to be homogenizing and dismiss the context-specific information. There are two reasons why it is imperative to include the local community into the DRR agenda.

            Firstly, they are the most affected subjects whose capacity needs to be empowered and rebuilt. While it is true that local populations should not be left in isolation, and guidance, as well as intervention from high-governments officials and experts, remain essential, DRR should also be far-reaching to the local population. In reality, the very first-line responders are local people themselves; regular people, their neighborhood, anyone within proximity when a disaster happens[7], evidenced by approximately 85% of survivors are rescued by anyone on the spot.[8]

Disaster risk reduction

Figure 1. Roadmap of Disaster Risk Reduction Integrating Local Knowledge and Bottom-Up Initiatives[9]

            Secondly, going further into practicality, the local community could provide knowledge valuable to DRR. Local knowledge is integral to the DRR agenda, given that it is in nature distinctive, in a sense local community might develop their way in identifying and addressing disaster risk in their residence.[10] Some references of local participation in DRR are crowdsourcing that helps contribute to data collection for the creation of digital mapping and open data that aim for wide dissemination of information as well as greater collaboration with the general public on disaster management. Local institutions, not directly affected by the disaster, could also take more proactive and immediate action in giving assistance, given that they are in close geographical distance to the disaster area.[11]

Q2: How could open data help the realization of participatory-based approach in DRR?

            There are at least three reasons why open data could make a significant contribution to the DRR strategy. Firstly, open data give people access to knowledge related to DRR. Lack of information often becomes the major impediment for public taking part and having a say into the decision-making process, especially for the disadvantaged, and making an informed decision for themselves. Additionally, in optimizing government officials’ competence in producing rational and sustainable DRR policies, said the policy should be data-driven as opposed to taking action only reactively at the moment where everything is extremely scarce and time-sensitive. Private sectors also can identify what should be addressed in the affected area hence activities can go back to normal as soon as possible. The lack of access to essential information could be resolved through open data system which operates as an integrated data collection system from local to national, relevant, as well as accessible to those in charge of DRR-related projects.

            Secondly, open data allows data gathering, sharing, and collaboration with a wide array of stakeholders. Open data provides an avenue for the creation of public participatory information system (PPGIS) through crowdsourcing, human-centered research that enables various stages for the local community being involved directly in the assessment of what is at risk and source of hazard[12], a forecast of possible events, as well as current updates in the hazard-prone area. Scientists also could further prescribe the list of most viable options to take in designing DRR plans.

            Lastly, open data also pave the way to stronger oversight because information is now more accessible and transparent, allowing a more conducive environment to give constructive criticism to DRR-related agenda. For example, anyone can track the flow of money for programs on reconstruction and economic empowerment directed to the affected population. Any humanitarian action also becomes subject of feedback because assessment is now more identifiable. The World Bank’s Hotspots and UNDP’s Disaster Risk Index are examples of data open to international, extracted from national-level on socioeconomic and disaster-impact data.[13]

Q3: What are enabling factors to the implementation of open data for DRR?

            There are two things critical to open data for DRR. First, making the public familiar with necessary technicality and structures of open data on DRR is one of the most pressing issues. Data should be delivered in format understandable[14] and interoperable to the general public, or in short, user-friendly. Standardization is a way to go to fully ensure analysis, delivery, and aggregation of information collected from the local community and shared to public meet the criteria of relevant, reliable, and scalable data.

            Secondly, it is also crucial to ensure broad public willing to participate in DRR initiatives. High priority should be given to education and continuous training, such as on digital literacy and active promotion of open data tool, moreover, if the government wants to invest in open data in the long run. User awareness also could be raised through many innovations, a case on point is by putting the logic of gamification into “Setsuden”, public campaign for energy conservation in Japan. There are around 50 applications of “Setsuden”, using a model that gives users information of their performance, measures it, as well as reward users if they can achieve the target set by the said application.[15]

Editor: Treviliana Eka Putri

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[1] Gaillard, J. & Mercer, J., 2012. From knowledge to action: bridging gaps in disaster risk reduction. Progress in Human Geography, 37(1), pp. 93-114.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Pearce, L., 2003. Disaster Management and Community Planning, and Public Participation: How to Achieve Sustainable Hazard Mitigation. Natural Hazards, Volume 28, pp. 211-228.

[4] Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, Japan, 2014. e-Government, Open Government and Open Data in Japan, s.l.: s.n.

[5] Pietropaolo, M. G., 2015. Observations on strengthening community participation in disaster risk reduction in disaster law and policy. Disaster Law Working Paper Series, Volume 5, pp. 1-18.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Gaillard, J. & Mercer, J., 2012. From knowledge to action: bridging gaps in disaster risk reduction. Progress in Human Geography, 37(1), pp. 93-114.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Kemp, R. B., 2008. Public participatory GIS in community-based disaster risk reduction. Triple-C, 6(2), pp. 88-104.

[13] Pelling, M., 2007. Learning from others: the scope and challenges for participatory disaster risk assessment. Disasters, 31(4), pp. 373-385.

[14] Pearce, L., 2003. Disaster Management and Community Planning, and Public Participation: How to Achieve Sustainable Hazard Mitigation. Natural Hazards, Volume 28, pp. 211-228.

[15] Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, Japan, 2014. e-Government, Open Government and Open Data in Japan, s.l.: s.n.