Dumfries-based the Halo Trust celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and is using the occasion to highlight how the freely available online tools of Google Maps and Google Earth Pro are helping communities resettle after dangerous landmine clearance operations.
By using the technology to map and update cleared areas online, the charity is able to assure communities across the world which areas are safe to return to – with locals themselves able to access the data online.
For example in Krivenik, Kosovo, Halo has created an interactive map which includes progress to date as well as images and testimonials from residents.
It means the community can experience first-hand the mine clearance effort, giving them confidence to return home in safety.
Halo and Google have also released a video case study telling the story of how the technology makes the job of landmine clearance in Kosovo easier.
Guy Willoughby, chief executive of The Halo Trust, said the technology was making their job easier – and would hopefully make its role as a mine clearance charity redundant in future.
“We work in more than a dozen countries and regions across the globe so we rely on easy-to-use tools which can assist us in mapping minefields without putting our teams at risk,” he said.
“Google Maps, and in particular Google Earth Pro, are assisting us in our efforts, making mine clearance safer and more efficient so that we hopefully will not be marking our 50th anniversary.”
In addition to killing and injuring victims, landmines keep villages mired in poverty by preventing them from expanding farms and repairing homes, roads and schools, said Willoughby.
Halo recently announced Prince Harry as its patron. He follows his mother, Princess Diana, who supported the project in the 1990s and who turned the world’s attention to its work after famously donning protective mine clearance clothing at one of the trust’s projects in Angola.