Google Earth and Darfur

Google Earth has added a Global Awareness Layer that features data from a collaboration with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial on the Genocide in Darfur.

It is a very moving presentation of data making Google Earth a valuable tool for education and activism around issues of human rights. The Geospatial data is linked with images and stories of survivors of the Genocide.

We are working on a project for Witness to create a video sharing portal for video of human rights violations. I recently blogged about the Video Hub and Net Squared (go there, sign up and vote for the Video Hub, and the Genocide Intervention Network’s project). Mapping this kind of data can expose government lies to the bright light of day and also connect people a world away to the reality of life for our fellow humans.

The work we are doing with TOPP on the Great Turtle Race is similar, in a way. By presenting compelling images and story with geospatial data, people are getting an opportunity to see something they normally would not, in this case, Leather Back Turtles swimming nearly one thousand miles.

I remember in the days after Hurricane Katrina hit helping my friend identify her parent’s houses and see if they were under water using Google Earth. The tool is obviously very powerful. Google has recently added building footprints to Google Maps and the new “My Maps” feature. All very cool. But just last month Google replaced post Katrina images with pre-Katrina ones causing an uproar. The technology that Google is making available is great, but what happens when one company is the arbiter of… well, fact? It smacks of Wikiality and Wikilobbying.

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