Using technology to positively impact lives

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MDeC CEO Dato’ Yasmin (far right) seen here with Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak (second from left) with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Tan Sri Muhyiddin bin Yassin (far left) together with Communications and Multimedia Minister Dato’ Sri Ahmad Shabery Cheek at the 26th MSC Malaysia Implementation Council. MDeC has launched the #TogetherWithU' / '#BersamaMu' campaign integrates the various key communities across the country to make a difference.MDeC CEO Dato’ Yasmin (far right) seen here with Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak (second from left) with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Tan Sri Muhyiddin bin Yassin (far left) together with Communications and Multimedia Minister Dato’ Sri Ahmad Shabery Cheek at the 26th MSC Malaysia Implementation Council. MDeC has launched the #TogetherWithU' / '#BersamaMu' campaign integrates the various key communities across the country to make a difference.MDeC CEO Dato’ Yasmin (far right) seen here with Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak (second from left) with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Tan Sri Muhyiddin bin Yassin (far left) together with Communications and Multimedia Minister Dato’ Sri Ahmad Shabery Cheek at the 26th MSC Malaysia Implementation Council. MDeC has launched the #TogetherWithU’ / ‘#BersamaMu’ campaign, which integrates the various key communities across the country to make a difference.

The recent floods that hit over half the states in Malaysia last December and early January this year affected more than 400,000 people, and caused RM2.9 billion in damages, according to the government.

The tragedy, which unfolded on social media, newspapers and on television reports galvanised ordinary Malaysians to come together to find ways to help the flood victims.

Many corporations and individuals collected basic necessities and arranged transport by truck and 4WD to the affected areas. Others used social media, newspapers and community networks to raise or channel funds to aid organisations such as Mercy Malaysia and the Malaysian Red Crescent Society.

But one thing all these efforts lacked was proper information on the condition of roads and bridges, up-to-date weather information, as well as on the ground information on whom to contact for government and private sector aid.

Seeing this gap in information, the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), working together with tech communities and linked organisations, launched the ‘#TogetherWithU’ or ‘#BersamaMu’ community campaign.

e-Bantuan Banjir Crisis Management

e-Bantuan Banjir Crisis Management

The digital campaign leverages on the e-Bantuan Banjir (eBB) platform (pic), which combines a simple communications initiative with a powerful mobile app and websites.

It also offers crowdsourced funding and volunteer platforms so that individuals and corporations can donate resources to the right channels.

MDeC chief executive officer Dato’ Yasmin Mahmood said the public can access the eBB platform via a website and via a free mobile app with the same name available on Android, with the iOS version in the near future.

“Like all Malaysians, we all feel for the flood victims. MDeC’s ‘#TogetherWithU’ / ‘#BersamaMu’ campaign integrates the various key communities across the country to make a difference. This complements the numerous initiatives from both the public and private sectors to help our affected rakyat start rebuilding their lives,” said Yasmin in a recent interview.

She said MDeC – an agency under the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia – was extending the communication efforts from the government via the e-Bantuan Banjir integrated platform to the public.

“At the same time, under the Digital Malaysia mandate, we are spearheading technology as a means to impact lives. In this case, technology is the best enabler to combat crisis,” she added.

The campaign has three online platforms. Users can check out e-Bantuan Banjir, which provides live feeds from drones of flood-damaged areas, and a map with updates. The e-Sukarelawan website, on the other hand, allows individuals to sign up and search for areas where volunteers are needed on a short-term basis. The crowdsourcing fund site Pitchin.my allows users to source aid from tech companies for victims.

The social media campaign at #TogetherWithU offers a chance for people to share updates and write messages of support.

The e-Bantuan Banjir portal is truly all-encompassing and an extremely powerful tool. Think of it as a one-stop centre to get the latest flood news (complete with real-time images from drones), number of evacuees according to districts, river levels, weather forecast, road closures, how and where to sign up as volunteers, how to donate, etc. It even incorporates tools such as flashlight, alarm, strobe, I’m safe signal (via GPS), and even quick uploads of photos to relevant agencies.

The suffering of the victims struck a chord in Yasmin, whose family survived a major flood several years ago.

“Coming from a family that also went through the floods years ago, I can truly empathise with the challenges and emotions that the affected are experiencing,” said Yasmin.

“It is very heartening to see so many members of the community coming together – whether it is via donations, providing technology to enable predictive analysis and mitigation of future flood issues, or volunteering to help with the post-flood relief efforts. This epitomises the spirit of unity and togetherness to always look out for and help our fellow Malaysians in need,” she added.

She said MDeC and MSC communities were working with NGOs such as Mercy Malaysia, MyWin Academy and Persatuan Orang Kota Bahru to donate money and resources. Corporate donations from the MSC Malaysia and IT communities direct via MDeC engagements has so far raised RM250,000 (US$70,000) to help in rebuilding efforts.

Hopefully, these digital efforts by MDeC and its partners will help to bring greater relief to flood victims now, and in the future.

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