Climate change already presents numerous challenges to institutions, infrastructures, and settlement patterns; as the emergency unfolds in the coming decades, many of these difficulties could become insurmountable, leading to a cascading collapse beyond human control. However, CESA believes infrastructure for collective action that is participatory and inclusive can lead to more equitable and efficient adaptation and thereby support durable socioeconomic stability in increasingly turbulent times.

The short film, The Same River, Twice, tells the story of CogniCity OSS from its early days in the monsoon floods in Jakarta
to its expansion regionally to support DRR for all hazards and encourage climate adaptation.

CESA is convinced that climate challenges can best be met when their causes and consequences are understood by the greatest number of potentially affected people; that mutual aid and solidarity triumph over fear and selfishness when the greatest number of potentially affected people are given the tools to help support and care for one another; and, that financial technologies can be modestly and creatively reconfigured within our existing political economic system to better compensate and support community-led adaptation efforts.

Open Source Software is critical infrastructure for a coordinated response to the climate emergency; with over 6.3 billion smartphone users in the world (as of 2021), the modular, cloud-based architecture of CogniCity OSS offers an equitable, participatory framework for global climate mobilization that leverages efficient mobile-centric design while remaining and highly adaptive to local conditions and challenges. 



The flagship component of CogniCity OSS, CogniCity.Info listens to social media for any posts about disasters, effectively converting these platforms into a public information gathering system. Once a keyword is detected, the software programmatically invites users to share more detailed reports using Humanitarian Chatbots. The system organizes and displays this information on a free digital map in real-time for residents and first responders. It is also designed to automatically integrate information from various government agencies, including infrastructure performance data and official disaster updates, to create a comprehensive map of impact, need, response, and recovery. Information is the most valuable resource in a disaster. However, decision-support tools are typically available to only a small group of individuals within municipal, national, or international disaster agencies. CogniCity.Info has revolutionized disaster preparedness, response, and recovery by democratizing decision-support infrastructure and making it freely available for all residents. When disaster response professionals and urban residents work together, and when residential knowledge about local conditions is integrated into disaster response efforts, communities can convert the noise of social media into inclusive, life-saving humanitarian infrastructure.

Needs Assessment

The need for a comprehensive and accessible digital system for disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation worldwide arises from the extensive demand for democratized decision-support infrastructure, improved disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, and enhanced collaboration between residents and disaster response professionals. Residents, first responders, and disaster agencies all face unique, dynamic challenges in accessing reliable, real-time information during disaster events that are worsened by climate change. CogniCity.Info addresses these challenges by efficiently monitoring social media for disaster-related keywords, using humanitarian chatbots to collect detailed reports, integrating information from government agencies and other stakeholders, and presenting comprehensive, user-friendly digital maps in real-time. The software’s success can be measured through increased user engagement, improved decision-making for disaster management agencies, and strengthened collaboration between residents and first responders during disaster events. By addressing these critical needs, CogniCity.Info has revolutionized disaster management, fostering more inclusive and effective collaboration among all parties involved. Scaling this enterprise-level component from Indonesia and the Philippines to facilitate a global climate mobilization is urgently required.


The challenge of coordinating diverse communities with various, changing needs during disaster response and recovery led to the development of a new modular component for crowd logistics. An early version of CogniCity.Sync is successfully deployed by HKFoodWorks to address chronic issues of food waste and hunger in Hong Kong. Building on their innovation, we have further developed this component for beta-testing during episodic disaster response in Metro Manila. By integrating both challenges—one focused on episodic, post-typhoon recovery, and another attending to chronic issues related to food availability and public service accessibility—we have designed a robust, crowd-logistics system that works for both immediate disaster response as well as longer-term community engagement, resource distribution, and day-to- day mutual aid.

As part of our global climate mobilization, we are now developing an enterprise-level open source version of CogniCity.Sync that can be deployed anywhere in the world as a real-time support for frontline communities. Importantly, CogniCity.Sync is being developed as a complimentary, interoperable system with the other CogniCity OSS components. In order to enable its future usage as a stand-alone software product, CESA is developing a modular code base that can be deployed as an independent piece of critical digital infrastructure on either a local server or by using a cloud-based architecture. By ensuring that CogniCity.Sync can be used across a wide range of scales and contexts, this crowd logistics system will substantially improve mutual aid for climate adaptation. As with all CogniCity OSS products, the Alliance will ensure enterprise-level quality prior to its global deployment and that the software meets the highest standards of reliability and (to the greatest extent possible) interoperability with other open source hardware and software in the humanitarian sector.

Needs Assessment

The growing urgency of climate adaptation and the increasing complexity of disaster response and recovery scenarios create a pressing need for a versatile and scalable crowd-logistics system like CogniCity.Sync. Coordinating diverse communities with evolving needs during disasters and crises demands a robust, community-led logistics system that can facilitate both immediate response and long-term community engagement. By leveraging the power of crowd-logistics, CogniCity.Sync further revolutionizes resource distribution and day-to-day mutual aid efforts, ultimately contributing to the future of climate adaptation. The development of an enterprise-level open source version of CogniCity.Sync with a modular code base, ensuring compatibility with other CogniCity OSS components and standalone deployment, will significantly enhance its applicability and accessibility across diverse scales and contexts. By ensuring high standards of reliability and interoperability, CESA will release a powerful and adaptive crowd-logistics solution to address the growing challenges of climate change and foster resilient communities worldwide.


Learning to adapt to climate change also means coming to terms with especially challenging facts about when and where human settlements are appropriate. As communities begin to acknowledge the risks they face as a result of the worsening climate crisis, CESA has been working in close collaboration with Prof. Dr. Rosetta S. Elkin to research the social and technical requirements for novel open source financial technologies to both facilitate and financially compensate for community-led retreat processes. Thanks to the support of Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Dr. Elkin led an extensive preliminary research initiative to determine the functional requirements for the third critical piece of CogniCity OSS, CogniCity.Cede. In partnership with Dr. Elkin, her esteemed team of colleagues (including economists, ecologists, and legal experts), and various political and business leaders, CESA will develop and and deploy a robust, transparent, and secure software module for community-led financial planning and climate adaptation compensation.

The Alliance is committed to supporting high-risk communities when they decide they can no longer afford to remain where they are (or can no longer insure the properties they own) due to climate change. The objective is relatively simple, although its design requires carefully leveraging existing technologies toward new and more ambitious objectives. We must facilitate the compensation of communities who accept the need to retreat (especially from coastal areas) so that this urgent process can occur before  a severe disaster event strikes. To enable participatory and democratic retreat processes at the community scale, CESA has researched available financial instruments that can be used to transfer the value of “retreat properties” into bundled asset groups held in trust; the value of these bundled properties can then be openly assessed against their future value as novel ecologies—whether as storm surge barriers, soil retention systems, protected habitats, etc. When these retreat properties are bundled, de-structured, and replanted, they thus become ecological assets that appreciate in value over time. Working with local and state governments and reinsurance companies to openly assess and financially back this future value, CESA will use CogniCity.Cede, an open source software designed, tested, and deployed at an enterprise-level, to coordinate and compensate community-led retreat and environmental repair with frontline communities around the world.

Needs Assessment

As climate change exacerbates natural disasters and threatens the viability of human settlements, there is a growing urgency for proactive, community-led solutions that facilitate climate adaptation before irreversible damage and loss occur. Communities around the world, particularly those in high-risk areas such as coastlines, river valleys, and highly drought-prone landscapes, need innovative financial tools to act on the necessity for retreat while maintaining their livelihoods and dignity. The current lack of accessible open financial instruments and coordinated processes for community-led retreat poses a significant challenge in effectively addressing the climate emergency.

CogniCity.Cede fills this critical gap by providing an open source, accessible, and secure financial technology that can facilitate and compensate communities during the retreat process. This innovative approach not only empowers communities to make informed decisions about their future, but it also recognizes the potential ecological value of transformed retreat properties, such as storm surge barriers, soil retention systems, and protected habitats. By developing and deploying CogniCity.Cede in partnership with local and state governments, reinsurance companies, and experts across various fields, CESA enables a proactive, equitable, and financially viable approach to climate adaptation that puts communities at the forefront of decision-making and action. The time for a transformative, community-centered solution is now, as the future stability of our planet depends on our collective ability to adapt and thrive in the face of an increasingly unpredictable climate in every region on the planet.

Human eyes can perceive things only in the forms that they know.
— Michel de Montaigne (1575)


In order to communicate a crisis, it must be defined as a crisis where those affected are able to see, hear, and readily adopt the terms, symbols, and language appropriate to the crisis. Presently, the most global public space—used by people all over the world regardless of their mother tongue or chosen second languages—is the Emoji deck on our mobile devices; each day, billions of people interact with this “space” in order to select the symbols that express their moods, concerns, or observations. With financial support from USAID, CESA will communicate a Climate Emergency “inside” every internet-connected mobile phone on Earth by introducing a set of new Climate Emergis. Using the proven design anthropology process that has guided the Alliance’s research for over a decade, CESA will consult, develop, and deploy Climate Emergis and thereby achieve two vital objectives: CESA will inform every person on the planet with a mobile device—roughly 6.3 billion users as of 2021—that we are in a state of emergency, and the Alliance will simultaneously invite them to participate, with their mobile device, in a global climate mobilization to meet the challenge through adaptation, cooperation, and mutual aid.

Because they are a universally compatible, machine-readable format, any concentrated use of the Climate Emergis on social media allows CogniCity.Info’s Humanitarian Bots to locate the precise location of climate disasters and respond with the correct language and micro-survey protocols to facilitate disaster response and recovery. Even in communities with no prior CogniCity.Info training, CESA can provide on-the-ground, real-time support to residents and first responders. And, following the enterprise-level deployment of CogniCity.Sync, CESA will also assist in resource allocation through crowd logistics at a global scale.

When CogniCity.Info bots support response and relief efforts, CESA can also use these episodic events to make deeper connections with local organizations and agencies on the ground to initiate their formal enrollment in the Alliance through training, mentorship, and technical support. In this way, CESA can provide support to any community affected by disaster and then welcome them to participate in the global climate mobilization as part of a planetary network of CogniCity OSS users.

Needs Assessment

The need for an innovative communication symbology stems from the urgent requirement to acknowledge and address the ongoing climate emergency on a global scale with a universal and accessible set of icons. Currently, individuals from diverse linguistic backgrounds interact with each other using universally-recognized symbols, such as Emojis, on their mobile devices, sending billions of messages per day. A gap exists in the current Emoji deck to effectively communicate the climate emergency and engage billions of users in worldwide climate adaptation efforts. To fill this gap, CESA aims to introduce a set of new Climate Emergis through the formal process; by incorporating these Emergis, two vital objectives will be achieved: informing every person with a mobile device about the state of the climate emergency and inviting their participation in a global climate mobilization. By doing so, the Emergis will address the critical need for accessible, inclusive communication and collaboration in tackling the pressing challenges all over the world posed by the climate emergency.

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