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Mobile Application to Alert for Volcanic Eruptions

Around the world, 40-60 volcanoes erupt at any given time. Volcanoes spew magma with temperatures exceeding 700 degrees – four times hotter than any known organism can withstand. Volcanoes, whether in the Philippines, Peru, Italy, or elsewhere in the world, can be dangerous to the environment and no one wants to be too close to it when it erupts. But how do people get notified when a volcano is about to erupt?

The Taal Volcano eruption last year prompted scientists from the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (DOST-Phivolcs) to generate a volcano advisory application that will help the public understand similar geohazard warnings in the future so that they can be better prepared. The real-time volcano advisory app, which was initially designed for devices, provides infographic data on the most recent updates of Philippine active volcanoes monitored by DOST-Phivolcs.

Volcanoes exhibit precursory unrest that, when detected and analysed in time, allows eruptions to be predicted and vulnerable communities to be warned. The warning time preceding volcanic events usually allows affected communities enough time to implement response plans and mitigation measures.

The app aims to help users understand the present volcano status along with its alert level warnings through the 24-hour real-time observation data gathered from the Volcano Monitoring Network records and actual field survey data analysed by experts from DOST-Phivolcs.

Moreover, app users can also select and click from a list of active volcanoes with alert levels on the app’s homepage to get a 24-hour summary of the volcano’s alert level warning status, monitoring parameters, and recommendations in Filipino and English language.

According to the head of DOST-Phivolcs’ Volcano Monitoring and Eruption Prediction Division, the team intends to include advisories in multiple languages so that warnings can be contextualised using local languages. The push notification feature will inform the users of the latest volcano advisory before the updates are posted on social media platforms.

Users will be greeted with images of volcanoes, while the menu page contains bulletins, infographics, and details about each volcano’s acidity, level of sulphur dioxide, volcanic gas, carbon dioxide measurement, upwelling, amount of plume from the cater, ground deformation, and tremor events, all of which can indicate a volcano’s activity.

Furthermore, the app can provide other important information to help users determine the risks like the following:  ground deformation or the presence of cracks, sinking, or swelling of the ground that can be caused by gas, magma, or fluids moving underneath or the movements of the earth’s crust due to the motion along the faults.

If the app had been available before the calamity, it would have made a huge difference for some residents in Tanauan, Batangas who were affected by the Taal Volcano eruption last year. The application enables users ranging from businessmen to families to discover all potential hazards they may be exposed to at a given location.

In contrast, today, there are not one, but two profound transformations. The first is driven by changing how governments, businesses, and individuals will act in the twenty-first century, thanks to emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, the Internet of Things, 5G, and many others. As for the second transformation, climate change, it disrupts ecosystems, jeopardising biodiversity, food and water security and the future of life on the planet.

Every day, the digital world evolves from basic applications to climate advisory applications. This indicates that the digital revolution can aid with climate action and that information and communication technologies (ICTs) can assist with monitoring, mitigating, and adapting to the effects of climate change.

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