Mapping flood-prone areas in Bengaluru: NGO takes up crowdsourced initiative

July 10, 2023 10:25 pm | Updated July 11, 2023 08:07 am IST

Citizens can send the details of flood-prone areas to the WhatsApp bot number 8095500118 with the keyword ‘floodmap’

Rain water collected at Sai Layout at Hennur in Bengaluru on Monday. | Photo Credit: SUDHAKARA JAIN

The tragic death of 23-year-old Bhanu Rekha after being stuck in a flooded underpass near K.R. Circle rocked the city earlier this year in May. With the monsoon setting in and rains starting to lash the city once again, Bengaluru-based NGO Reap Benefit has started an initiative to map flood-prone areas across the city to nudge the officials into action and prevent unfortunate incidents.

The initiative is crowdsourced and citizens can send the details of flood-prone areas to the WhatsApp bot number 8095500118. Once the sender sends the keyword ‘floodmap’ to the number, the bot responds with a flow that asks for more details.

Started about a week back, the initiative has so far seen about a hundred data points coming in from people across the city. It aims to touch 1,000 by the end of July.

Based on the collected data, the organisation plans to compile a report which would be submitted to the BBMP commissioner.


Revenue Minister Krishna Byre Gowda said 21 rain-related deaths were reported in the State due to recent rains. As per reports, last year between June and September, monsoon fury cost 96 lives, crops in 5.8 lakh hectares of land, 1,471 bridges and 2,223 km of road in Karnataka. The total estimated loss was more than ₹7,600 crore.

Mobilising citizen power

Reap Benefit’s platform uses open-source technology to collect and build data, and mobilise grassroots-level movements to address civic challenges.

The idea for ‘flood mapping’ was the result of a ‘street audit’ exercise conducted by Reap Benefit this year in June around World Environment Day. A total of 800 street audits were performed across 65 wards in South Bengaluru and near Vidhan Sabha.

Among several other issues like non-functional streetlights, footpath obstruction, improper waste disposal, exposed transformers, and open defecations, citizens also raised flooding-prone streets as a major concern.

As per the street audit flood data of Reap benefits, 139 areas and 4,905 households are being impacted by heavy flooding. Light flooding affects 83 areas and 2,567 households.

Most entries from South Bengaluru

An earthmover clearing stagnated rain water on Jayamahal Palace Road in Bengaluru on Tuesday. | Photo Credit: SUDHAKARA JAIN

“In areas like Bapuji Nagar, there was major flooding last year. Many people who were earlier staying near the Vrishbhavathi river have now vacated their homes and left due to the floods. So many houses in the neighbourhood are now lying empty,” said Shrikant Mehtre, senior mentor at Reap Benefit.

He noted that the majority of the data points on flooding-prone areas so far have been coming in from South Bengaluru including Mavalli, J.C. Road slum and Byrasandra among other areas.

“A separate team of volunteers is working on the verification of these data points. They visit the site as and when we get an entry and cross-check it,” Mr Mehtre explained.

“The initiative is pan-India and we are working on collecting data from across India, but majorly we have got data from Bengaluru. We are also getting data from Dakshina Kannada which is also facing heavy flooding,” he added.

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