Humanitarian crises, aid can now be ‘Googled’ through UN agency view

8 April 2008

Computer users can now zoom down into displacement camps in Darfur, Chad, Iraq, Colombia and elsewhere on Earth in a new on-line programme unveiled today by Internet search giant Google and the United Nations refugee agency.

Computer users can now zoom down into displacement camps in Darfur, Chad, Iraq, Colombia and elsewhere on Earth in a new on-line programme unveiled today by Internet search giant Google and the United Nations refugee agency.

Google Earth Outreach gives the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian agencies the ability to use Google Earth and Maps to graphically bring home their work in some of the world’s most remote areas.

The online visitor can descend from the ‘macro-view’ over a refugee camp to examine schools, water points and other infrastructure, or can view videos, background on the UNHCR and other actors, maps and other elements enriched with pop-up information.

“Google Earth is a very powerful way for UNHCR to show the vital work that it is doing in some of the world’s most remote and difficult displacement situations,” Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees L. Craig Johnstone said at the launch of the project in Geneva.

UNHCR’s technical experts said that as it grows, the Google Earth programme will allow the agency and its humanitarian partners to build and share with each other a visual, geographic record of the joint efforts on the ground.

Such shared records could include, they said, cross-border mapping of population flows as well as the location of displaced persons in relation to their places of origin, to be used for logistical planning for repatriation operations, for example.

According to UNHCR, 350 million people around the world have already downloaded Google Earth, which allows viewers to zoom in on localities from satellite eye’s view.

 

Help us know what you think about UN News and ensure we meet your needs: take 4 minutes to take our survey!

♦ Receive daily updates directly in your inbox - Subscribe here to a topic.
♦ Download the UN News app for your iOS or Android devices.

News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

New UNICEF initiative enables children around the world to share stories online

Young people from around the world will be able to record and share their stories online in various languages thanks to a new project launched today by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), technology giant Google and the non-profit organization One Laptop per Child.