Declan Butler, reporter This is the personal blog of Declan Butler, a senior reporter at Nature. All views expressed here are mine, and not those of Nature. Contact me at

April 10, 2007

Genocide information in Google Earth

Filed under: GIS,Google Earth,Justice,Open data,Uncategorized — admin @ 3:12 pm

I’m pleased to let you know about Crisis in Darfur, a Google Earth layer that assembles data, photographs, and eyewitness testimony and which will be officially announced today by Google and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. It will appear in Google Earth under the Global Awareness layer in the left hand panel of Google Earth .

The way it is currently setup, the layers on this genocide link to description panels, and as some photos might be disturbing to younger viewers, you need to click through to fuller documentation. You can download a fuller version of the layers directly here.

High-resolution imagery of Darfur in Google Earth allows you to see first-hand the extent of damage; burnt huts in villages appear as black charred rings (see photo below). Second screenshot is of refugee camp location, with bar height proportional to the camp population. There’s more.

I’ve had the honour of being involved in creating this project from the outset along with a small band of other open source-styled volunteers, all working on this in their spare time, brought together by the museum’s Michael Graham (the driver behind the project — but not even mentioned in today’s official release…) over a year ago; happily, our efforts have now been adopted and endorsed by both the museum and Google. Let’s hope the initiative helps in its own small way to aid pioneering journalistic efforts, such as NYT’s Nicholas Kristof’s, to draw urgent international attention to this crisis.

For more information see here.

A webcast of the announcement is playing now.

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