AAAS documents humanitarian crises with Google Earth

What do Sudan, Lebanon and Zimbabwe have in common? Over the past two years, they have all had their respective humanitarian crises documented via satellite imagery. For Darfur in Sudan, a large number of recent high resolution images are now part of Google Earth’s base layer, clearly showing refugee camps. For Lebanon and Zimbabwe, some individual images have been released, but turning them into KML overlays was left to the amateurs.

Until Now. Lars Bromley at the American Association for the Advancement of Science has just posted a much more complete set of annotated overlays for Lebanon and Zimbabwe, and also a timeline-enabled set of placemarks documenting attacks on civilians in Darfur during September-December 2006. The imagery of Zimbabwe and Lebanon is regions-enabled, properly aligned, and with impeccable sourcing. Lars says we should expect to see more of where this comes from.

I think it’s great to see the fruits of scientific progress find such immediate, humanitarian uses. While it may not have been the case in the past, future leaders must now know that the humanitarian toll of their actions will be visible to all, archived, and pored over in minute detail when its time to write their histories.