The Visual and Sound-Based Self Evacuation Guide System developed by the Merapi Rescue Community (MRC) in collaboration with the Duta Wacana Christian University (UKDW)

Since December 2021, there have been slight differences in Tlogowatu, Tritis, and Wonorejo Sub-Villages located on the slope of Mount Merapi about 6 to 8 kilometers from the peak, especially during the night or when it is dark due to heavy clouds or thick fog. Some of the lanes/streets in the sub-villages now appear brighter than before. Between about 20 to 50 meters, there is a lamppost that seems different from the usual lamp post. In addition to providing lighting for its surroundings, the lamppost also has LED lights that turn on when there is movement nearby, and it emits beeping sound signals in a regular pattern.

Complying with the village contingency plan for Mount Merapi eruption, the lampposts are carefully installed towards the agreed location as the meeting point. Interestingly, if we walk following the lamppost, in some locations approaching the meeting point location, the beeping sound produced will be different, for example a lamppost installed in an evacuation monitoring post location. There are three different types of the beeping sound patterns, each signaling for the guiding lamppost, evacuation post, and final meeting point. The differences in tone and intensity of sound can be used as a benchmark to get to the exit or meeting point. Apparently, it is not just a lamppost, but a visual and sound-based self-evacuation guide system.

Mr. A. Lesto P. Kusumo, the leader of Merapi Rescue Community (MRC) explained that to live in a potential disaster-prone area requires us to be ready and always alert, and the mitigation system must be related to communities’ daily activities (familiarization), so gradually it will be part of their lives (habituation) and when disaster happens, self-evacuation shall happen by intuition.

In an eruption emergency, people tend to panic and get confused among communities. Based on MRC’s experiences, there is a high possibility that most community members will not remember the correct evacuation procedure. This condition is exacerbated by power outages in the location, which may cause many people to take the wrong route and not reach the meeting point timely, in which time is crucial during the emergency evacuation process.

The self-evacuation guide system is also designed to particularly support the people with disabilities, older people, and other persons at risk. To do that, it must meet the following requirements:

  • It has independent power supply that does not depend on centralised electricity supply,
  • The power supply energy that can last a long time,
  • A guiding system that is active even during bright situation (at the minimum) and especially during dimmed and dark situation,
  • It works automatically by sensors and inclusive, in which the guide system must work visually and audibility by emitting directional sound, and
  • The guide system must be able to direct the community to the agreed Meeting Point.

An added value of this system is it encourages protection for women and other persons at risk, as in providing more public security during the night. In the project monitoring discussion in March, Ms. Winta Tridhatu Satwikasanti from Duta Wacana Christian University (UKDW) mentioned that the women and older women feel safe when they walk along the side road where the self-evacuation guide system helps them to show the direction and provides sense of security because of the lights, directional sound, and CCTV camera added to the one installed in evacuation meeting point.

MRC builds the self-evacuation guide system that is powered by solar cells and equipped with sensors that activate when the surrounding light is dim or dark, the lights and directional sounds will automatically turn on. So that in a disaster situation and the electricity goes out, the community continues to evacuate independently to the meeting point with light and sound guidance. It will also support the search and rescue team, in which they can focus on the most vulnerable community members such as those with zero mobility, chronic diseases, and certain disabilities that do not allow them to self-evacuate.

In their journal, “Guiding Evacuation System Implementing Visual and Audio Cues as an Early Warning System”, for the Seminar Geodynamics & Built Environment 2022, MRC team concluded, “A disaster situation is a complex situation and the steps to solving the problem must be looked at thoroughly involving aspects of users, environment, activities. The aim of this study is to provide an inclusive self-guided design to the assembly point to reduce the number of victims.”[1]

All the images are documentation of MRC:

MRC Team are building the self-evacuation guide system

 MRC team member puts

sticker logos on the self-evacuation guide lamppost, documentation of MRC 2021

Design of the visual and sound-based self-evacuation guide system, from left to right: basic self-evacuation guide (along the route), self-evacuation guide at the monitoring post, and self-evacuation guide at final meeting point.


the self-evacuation guide also serves as public lamppost (left) and when the LED light turn on (activated by nearby movement e.g. person walking next to it) (right)

The self-evacuation guide system supports the conventional evacuation route sign by giving lights and directional sound.


MRC team and YEU team during partner assessment survey, October 2021



[1] Satwikasanti, W. T., Kusumo, A. L. P., Wibowo, T. A., Prakoso, P. G., Pudyastanto, S. B., Timur, S.M., & Tegar, A. (2022). Sistem Jalur Pandu Evakuasi Berbasis Visual dan Suara dalam Mitigasi Bencana sebagai Sarana peringatan Dini. Proceeding Seminar Geodynamics & Built Environment.