On April 16th, a magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit the coast of Ecuador. As the victim count reached near 300 people on Sunday, the Open Data community around the globe organized to create a base map for rescue and distress relief purposes.
A lot has been done in a short time, but there is still plenty to do.
You don’t need to live in Ecuador to help the volunteers: mapping can be done from wherever you are. If you don´t know how, start with this wiki document.
Open Street Maps (OSM) is just one of the tools you can use without being in Ecuador. It basically digitalizes satellite images and transforms them into an open and editable database and a map so rescue squads and people in general know where to allocate resources or avoid risks.
The OSM Task Manager prioritizes and divides the work among users so volunteer work won´t overlap. This is where to begin.
Mapping efforts are conducted by Humberto Yances (Humanitarian Open Street Map Team) and Daniel Orellana (Open Street Maps Ecuador), who launched two tutorials in Spanish yesterday, for basic and intermediate mappers. You can a tutorial in english here.
Helping when in Ecuador
If you are in Ecuador, there are other ways to help beside Open Street Maps: platform Mapa Desastre allows you to send and visualize reports on specific issues and their geographic location. You can also set GPS alerts based on their changing location. All of this data is also public and available for both the general population and humanitarian squads.
Another indispensable tool for those in Ecudaor is Google Person Finder, an online repository where you can search for missing people or send information about lost people you found yourself.
Mapillary and Open Street Map Android Tracker allow you to upload pictures of specific locations at the disaster.
To strenghten the ranks of volunteer mappers, Open Data Ecuador organized yesterday, April 18, a workshop to train volunteers to map at the Ciespal building in Quito.