- Reduces evacuation time during Fiji tsunami drill, increases evacuation efficiency
- Works with Hsinchu County and Austrian Institute of Technology on earthquake drill; app provides high resolution satellite images before and after a major earthquake to for damage assessment.
- Cooperate with New Taipei City government to better coordinate central command with frontline volunteer and government staff. By using geoBingAn, it improves efficiency and achieve quicker response during Jinshan nuclear emergency drill.
- Team up with Asian Disaster Reduction Center and University of Hyogo to promptly report the latest situation of Sakurajima volcano.
geoBingAn disaster rescue information platform
GeoThings is an innovative software development team focus on the development of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) tools for humanitarian purposes. Established in 2014, the company is the first social enterprise founded by the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), a government- sponsored high-tech applied research institution in Taiwan.
GeoThings Co-founders, Kuo-Yu slayer Chuang (莊國煜) and Venus Chen (陳孟敏) believed that latest communication technology and location-based service should be fully taken advantage of to build a sustainable platform for pre-disaster prevention and post-disaster assessment & recovery.
geoBingAn, an innovative ICT tool developed by GeoThings, was born as a result of the years-long effort.
Rescue information digitalization since 2010 Haiti Earthquake
Chuang said he first saw the potential to work on this LBS-powered humanitarian ICT during the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Back then, the Caribbean nations were seriously lacking of digital map database, making it extremely difficult for rescuers to conduct rescue mission.
GeoThings then worked together with Open Geospatial Consortium, International Telecommunication Union, and OpenStreetMap community to combine text messaging (SMS) function with location information for the humanitarian activities in the field. The system allowed user to submit situation via text messages to the service developed by GeoThings, called geoBingAn, that could be a good assistant to the central rescue command and speed up the rescue efforts.
Satellite images to aid Hsinchu Earthquake Drills
“The case of Haiti earthquake has taught us the importance of making use of digital map, alone with ICT tools, to provide the latest, updated disaster-affected locations. These are very important information for not only the assessment, but also for response and recovery,” Chuang said.
GeoThings later worked closely with Austrian Institute of Technology and GeoVille to compare before/after high resolution satellite images for identifying the affected areas hit by earthquake. GeoThings also cooperated with local community with its crowdsourcing technologies, allow citizen to report the on-site situation so the comparison can perform better and better.
This international collaboration was performed together with Hsinchu County Government as one of the major earthquake drills at Zhubei City on the National Disaster Prevention Day of Taiwan. The drill was a success for Hsinchu and paved way for a MOU signing between the both side in 2019 to expand such cooperation to other parts of Hsinchu.
Under the introduction of Asian Development Bank (ADB), GeoThings cooperated with Fiji National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) to conduct a National Tsunami Drill by using ICT tool, geoBingAn, for information coordination.
The use of the geoBingAn app allowed the volunteers to report to the emergency command center swiftly so that the staff at the center was better informed of the latest situation in tsunami affected areas.
According to NDMO, the geoBingAn app had greatly enhanced the drill gathering time to 5 minutes and 34 seconds, from the originally estimated 7 minutes.
New Taipei Jinshan evacuation drill with the assistant by geoBingAn
Taiwanese people are known for their compassion and for showing sympathy following major disasters. Thousands of people would use different online platforms to raise money or supplies to aid post-disaster relief works. However, these platforms lack a more systematic integration and coordination mechanism which could cause disturbance to the central disaster relief command and even lead to a waste of relief supplies and resources.
Since 2018, New Taipei City’s Jinshan District has been using the geoBingAn app in its evacuation drills. During such drill, the app allows its users, including rescuers and people supposedly affected by the emergency and disaster relief supplies to be registered to the system by scanning the QRCODE on item with geoBingAn App. .
In so doing, the central command can have a full grasp of all personnel involved in the disaster relief and rescue efforts and how the relief supplies are being distributed. The central command located at Banciao District can have the latest updates in near real-time, after they are reported and make timely adjustment to meet the needs of people affected by the disaster.
GeoThings Chief Operating Officer, Venus Chen said whenever a major disaster occurs the disaster reporting tends to be chaotic and unhelpful to rescue efforts. There should be one single platform established so that a central command center can use it to coordinate the dispatch of volunteers, rescuers and to help those in desperate need to make rescue works more efficient.
That is exactly what the geoBingAn is designed to do: to coordinate governments agencies, non-government organizations, and communities where they can submit and be informed about the latest situation, precisely marked the location of where the damage took place, so that the responders can have a clear picture of the disaster and make responsive measures accordingly to help those affected as soon as possible.
It’s also good for daily use
The humanitarian ICT, geoBingAn, is not only useful during disasters but also suitable for the daily use. Yilan City Office piloted geoBingAn at 2016, allowing citizens to report to the office via the app whenever he or she finds some problems with their local public infrastructure and facilities. In this way, the city office can make quicker response and timely repair for the safety of its citizens. A community patrol volunteer groups in Taoyuan is also making use of the geoBingAn to help local community leaders to monitor water level of river, to prevent floods.
The Japan-based Asian Disaster Reduction Center (ADRC) is also working with GeoThings to use its geoBingAn service to help their investigative works on Sakurajima volcano in southern Japan. The surveyors simply need to use the LINE app on their phones to upload the latest situation of the volcano to help the center for a quicker analysis.
geoBingAn provides a solution to integrate disaster-relief information sharing among different online platforms and to provide pre-disaster prevention and in-disaster response and information gathering/analysis. The app works well on both daily basis and during disaster. The sustainable business model can work with government’s disaster rescue system so that people can easily take part in disaster relief and rescue efforts by providing a single platform.
- Combing with world-wide digital basemap to help rescue command system to have instant knowledge of latest post-disaster damage
- Easy connection to messaging app such as Line, WhatsApp, and Telegram based on different countries’ practices
- Satellite image analysis to help government’s post-disaster rescue works
- Allows volunteers to do regular reporting to the government to help pre-disaster prevention efforts