Interactive mapping and the eruption of the Santiaguito volcano using social media

Santiaguito volcano is located in the Department of Quetzaltenango, in the western highlands of Guatemala at 2550 mts altitude over sea level. Located 11 km from the city of Quetzaltenango, it is visited by many tourists and local climbers who are lured by the adventure that means observing its explosions.

Today Santiaguito went again into activity, considered a "very strong" one by the authorities, launching sand and ashes to high altitude. The national Meteorology Agency has recommended restricting air traffic in the area. Until the moment there is no need for an evacuation of closest populations to the Colossus, located about 227 kilometers from Guatemala City, according to country's authorities.

Anyhow, the area is currently going through a situation far from idyllic due to the earthquake beginning last 7 November for which the government declared the Department and 7 more in “State of Calamity” for 30 days, in addition to survive a cold weather front and the ashes of the volcano. Victims sum up to 25.840 people, while the total of affected ones sums 1.292.017, registering a total of 795 housed in 11 arranged shelters in Quetzaltenango.

A very useful tool to alert about these type of natural disasters is the use of cartography with thematic layers containing information provided by the networks and nodes of emergency in the context of disaster risk reduction organizations:

Map drawn up by CONRED with information from reports of ash fall

The Executive Secretary of the CONRED (National Commision for Natural Disasters Reduction) and the INSIVUMEH closely monitored not only recent seismic activity but also the volcano eruptions. This commendable and almost heroic task could benefit also from tools such as the following, which identifies thematic layers in twitts, images from flickr and youtube videos with the events live in the disaster area:

Interactive mapping of the eruption of the volcano Santiaguito using social networks

In this example, it is possible to screen live messages and pictures sent through three different social networks in the area of reference with selected thematic restrictions, which means that they will represent only messages that are configured previously to display or those related to words of "hashtag". 

These tools can be particularly efficient if the system to alert and reduce impact of disasters in many countries incorporate into its nodes of information in emergencies the good practice of using social media for mapping, which would save time and effort in times of crucial importance.