Mapping for Ecuador

April 21, 2016

On April 16 the coast of Ecuador suffered a devastating 7.8 earthquake. Since that time there have been hundreds of aftershocks. As of today there are over 600 people reported dead, at least a hundred missing, and thousands injured. Entire neighborhoods and towns have been leveled, and as many 25,000 people are without housing, food, or electricity. Social media is flooded with pictures of the missing, posted by families who are desperate for news. The need is urgent, to assist in rescue efforts and support people who have been displaced. Even after this immediate need has been met, Ecuador is facing a long road to rebuild what has been damaged, with estimates at over a billion dollars.The devestation is hard to fathom, and as someone who loves the country but is far away I've struggled with ways to help.

The first way I've found, that speaks to my archaeological skills, is to use some crowdsourcing webplatforms to compare pre- and post-quake satellite imagery to identify areas impacted by the quake. These platforms forward the information on to NGOs and governmental agency to direct aid to where it is needed most. This would be particularly helpful for remote regions that are hard to get to under the best of circumstances. I'm hosting a mapathon at my university on Tuesday to contribute to these efforts.

I've found two platforms to work with: Tomnod and HOT Tasking Manager hosted by OpenStreetMap. HOT Tasking Manager requires a bit more background knowledge of how to use the platform, but Tomnod is as easy as using Google Maps. Both services will require that you create an account before you can contribute.

The second way to help? Well, donate, donate, donate.