Google Earth helps clear landmines

The HALO Trust has revealed just how useful Google Earth can be for the organisation’s work clearing landmines.

Teams in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Zimbabwe are regularly using Google Earth to build maps for donors and governments, as well as collating information about areas which are affected by landmines.

Executive director Guy Willoughby explained in a Google blog post: “Google Earth Pro makes it easier for the HALO team to do the dangerous and detailed work of finding and mapping at-risk areas.

“Because it’s based on the same technology as Google Maps and Earth, it’s easy for our teams to use and create maps without IT or GIS expertise. It’s a tool that is familiar to our employees and something they use in their daily lives, so we can start mapping right away.”

The Trust notes GPS references to landmines, which are then imported into Earth Pro for plotting the locations. Satellite imagery from Google Earth is used to mark and map dangerous areas, which are then passed on to families who live nearby, as well as donors, NGOs, governments and clearance crews.

“When donors view the vivid interactive maps of our project areas, with mines so close to schools, farms and houses, they understand why the HALO Trust’s work is so critical,” Willoughby writes.

Using accurate maps translates into safer conditions for clearance teams. Using Google tech and with the aid of donors, the organisation thinks it will be able to make Kosovo completely free of mines.