Crowdsourcing Taxonomies to Assist Disaster Management Efforts

PARTNERS:  Humanitarian Forum Indonesia (HFI), Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), United Nations Development Programme Bangkok Regional Hub (UNDP BRH), United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), United Nations Volunteers (UNV), Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), and World Food Programme (WFP)

PROGRAMME AREA: The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

LABPulse Lab Jakarta


Communication is a critical element in disaster management. A way to better ‘listen’ to - and understand - what people say in social media, is to use data analytics to extract information relevant to priority topics, the first step of which is to create taxonomies, or sets or keywords.  However, building a detailed taxonomy in different languages - including local dialects, jargon and alphabets - can be labor intensive and time consuming. Language often represents a moving target, with trends and changes quickly altering the nature of relevant keywords and phrases. When such taxonomies are being used to seek information on time-critical issues like disaster management, it is essential that they are constantly and accurately updated.

In an attempt to address this challenge, Pulse Lab Jakarta launched Translator Gator in 2016, a language game the Lab developed to create text mining dictionaries for recognizing sustainable development-related conversations in Indonesia. In 2017, the Lab released Translator Gator 2 to test whether crowdsourcing can be used to inform disaster management efforts. The aim of the project is to engage the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ to create taxonomies for disaster management for ten ASEAN countries and for Sri Lanka.  The expected outcomes of the  project are: (1) to translate disaster keywords in multiple languages that can ultimately be used for computational research initiatives (2) to use social media to understand the behaviors of affected populations before/during/after a disaster and to improve communication with these communities; and (3) to raise disaster-preparedness awareness in multiple countries.

STATUS: Ongoing