Giving a “Google Search” a Whole New Meaning

Typing “how-to” into Google’s search bar can give instant insights into “how to tie a tie,” “how to build a computer,” and “how to cook artichokes.” “Googling” provides easy solutions for those seemingly impossible everyday tasks

However, a new partnership has taken the technology we use to tackle the ordinary to accomplish the extraordinary. Google has partnered with HALO trust, an NGO devoted to making war torn countries safe again through the removal of landmines. According to the United Nations, landmines kill 15,000 to 20,000 people a year, leave countless injured, and are scattered among 78 countries. Recently, countries have come together to sign treaties to ban further landmine use and devote resources to demining their territories. Today, the goals of these treaties are being put into action with the help of Google technology.

Google Maps for Business uses Google Earth Pro to provide high-resolution, high-accuracy mapping for agencies. HALO has leveraged this technology to aid with the critical, yet dangerous task of de-mining. According to HALO Trust director Guy Willoughby, “Because [Google Earth Pro] is based on the same technology as Google Maps and Earth, it’s easy for our teams to use and create maps without IT or GIS expertise. It’s a tool that is familiar to our employees and something they use in their daily lives, so we can start mapping right away,” Willoughby said.

In addition, the open source platform allows HALO teams, other NGOs, and local farmers, business owners and citizens all to contribute data so that Google can provide the most accurate and up to date information on land mines based on a variety of inputs. This mapping can then be used by anyone, including families on the ground hoping to keep their children safe. According to Willoughby, HALO’s partnership with Google has already accomplished something incredible. Kosovo will soon be officially declared mine-free.

This case study from Google and HALO Trust demonstrates the importance of user-friendly, open source software for the public sector. In addition, this example shows the amazing impacts that can come about from private and public sector partnerships.

Soon, demining conflict zones could be as simple as typing a Google search. What else can government organizations and non-profits use Google Maps for Business for? What could your agency do with user-friendly, mapping technology?

For more information on Google in government, please view Google’s page on GovLoop.

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