Since last March this volcano has not stopped roaring; It has done so much that at the end of that month the Colombian Geological Service (SGC) issued the orange alert. In June the level dropped to yellow and has remained that way since then, but with the clear warning that we should not let our guard down. Precisely to keep the surrounding communities informed, the STEM FabLab Classroom of the National University of Colombia (UNAL) Manizales Campus designed and is testing a mobile application that provides timely information on the behavior of Nevado.
“The application was designed to be used by people from strata 1, 2 and 3 who live in municipalities such as Villamaría, Casabianca, Herveo, Murillo and Villahermosa, users of mid- and low-range cell phones with Android operating system,” mentions the physical engineer. Santiago Palomino, STEM Classroom support professional.
Its blue interface shows an easy and intuitive menu with three main buttons: (i) alert report and map of the possible affected area from the SGC web portal, (ii) 3D model of the volcano, to visualize its size and anchor information on emissions, and (iii) access to emergency numbers to call the Police, firefighters and ambulances.
The App will be free to use and easy to install; It can be shared on social networks such as WhatsApp between friends, family or neighbors through an APK file (an installation format).
The engineer Palomino was in charge of the development and programming language C#, which translates as “C sharp” in the software Unity graphics engine, which is also used in video games and virtual reality in 2D and 3D, among other functions.
“Since March in the Aula STEM we began to design a mobile application to help people who do not know how to find out about the alerts provided by the SGC and the National Seismological Network of Colombia (RSNC),” he says.
For its development, the engineer Palomino had the support of the assistant student Santiago Román, from Civil Engineering, who made all the user interface part such as the buttons, the text and the order of the graphics.
Additionally, forestry engineer Johana Duarte, from the University of Tolima, participated in the design of the tool, creating the 3D model of the volcano, made with topographic mapping using software QGIS and Blender.
The Nevado Safe App consists of two parts, one online that requires the use of the Internet to connect the SGC information to the application, part in charge of displaying the information and bulletins of the system, and another offline that does not need an internet connection to access the 3D model of the volcano.
Juan Villegas, coordinator of the STEM FabLab Classroom at UNAL Manizales Headquarters, highlights that “the prototype was created with a scientific and technological purpose for the benefit of the Caldense community, with development in record time and at this moment we are in a period of tests that allow us to evaluate its effectiveness so we can share it with the communities.”
The ashes emitted by Nevado del Ruiz reach Tolima and Caldas. Its activity is so intense that its last eruption, on November 13, 1985, caused a catastrophe in which 25,000 people died. Since then, its activity has been permanently monitored, and each alert is assumed to be a priority.