In November 2014 and January 2015, two groups of University of Wollongong students travelled to Indonesia to learn about the annual flooding of Jakarta as part of the SMART Infrastructure Facility’s collaborative research project, The first group of students, funded by SMART and the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences, arrived in Jakarta in the pre-flood season to learn about the city’s flood preparedness with our partner BPBD DKI, the Jakarta Emergency Management Agency. The second group of students, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s New Colombo Plan, arrived in the midst of the flooding season to learn about flood management, with a particular focus on the impacts and response to the flooding.

The November group comprised of ten undergraduate EIS students, both domestic and international. This group utilised their burgeoning skill-set to collect GPS data and survey flood evacuation shelters through field interviews with members of the community. They gained a great insight into the state of Jakarta’s hydrological infrastructure through the collection of data on pump station locations and attributes, as well as river estuary data and river depth measurements. Boating along Jakarta’s northern port allowed the students to access a new perspective as they looked out on the city while travelling through its hydrological infrastructure, allowing them to visualise the scope of the city’s waterways.

The January group consisted of nine undergraduate domestic students from across the University, including students from Civil and Environmental Engineering, Physical Geography, Biology, and Graphic Design. This mix of specialities and skills fostered an environment of inter-disciplinary learning on the study tour, which was greatly beneficial and allowed the students to gain a more holistic understanding of the city’s response to flooding. This group learned about a range flood modelling techniques and approaches through interactive workshops. They also visited the Australia-Indonesia Facility for Disaster Reduction to learn about how the Australian and Indonesian governments are working together to approach the problem of flooding.

Both groups returned to Wollongong with a greater understanding of Jakarta’s urban resilience to extreme weather events and how, as an open source tool for spatial data collection and visualisation, can help increase the capacity of the city to transform infrastructure as a process of climate change adaptation.