Google’s Maps and Earth products are a good way to pass some idle time, zooming around the globe, but they’re also tools that can be put to use in scenarios with considerable social impact. The search giant has detailed its partnership with mine-clearing not-for-profit agency The HALO Trust in the past, but today the official Google blog has posted a guest entry from HALO Trust director Guy Willoughby that provides an update on the project’s progress and shines the spotlight on Kosovo.
The UK-based organization is using Google Earth Pro to help deploy its mine clearing teams effectively, as well as to help build maps of areas that remain to be cleared based on information provided by the local population and governments. Willoughby credits the Google tool’s ease-of-use and lack of required technical expertise as a key part of its appeal. Plus, the Maps can be used not only by their teams, but also very easily by people on the ground to keep their families safe.
Previously, Google has shone a spotlight on mine-ridden areas in Cambodia and Angola as being focal areas of its partnership with the HALO Trust. Today, Willoughby concentrated on Kosovo, a country which he says in the blog post will eventually be able to be declared “mine-free” thanks specifically to the use of Google’s tools.
It’s true that the work being done by The HALO Trust and other organizations probably would get done with or without Google’s tools in some way or another, but it’s also clear that Maps and Earth are making the task the foundation has taken on much easier, too. Google may ask a lot of everyday users in terms of access to data an information to help feed its product development, but at least it also puts that data to good use via partnerships like this one, too.