Google would never have imagined that Google Earth would turn out to be such a great product when it acquired Keyhole in 2004. Hoping to render Keyhole into a virtual globe that may be used by tourists to track promising holiday destinations or the fancy satellite imagery be used by low budget film makers they didn’t realize the extent to which this product could be used for the common good.
People have used Google Earth for the common benefit such as the World Wild Life organization uses it to save Sumatran Tiger Cubs, HALO trust uses it to locate and remove land mines and Japanese rescue workers used it in rescue operations after the 2011 earthquake.
All this was possible through a tutorial tool-kit developed by the Google Earth team to let these organizations develop their own story-telling maps in which they can add lines, polygons, annotations, points and even embedded Youtube videos. In addition to this the outreach team goes one step further by awarding development grants to non-profit organizations so that they may use mapping technologies to better pursue their objective.
Here we present Top 10 successful projects that benefited greatly from the Google Earth.
10. Mountaintop Destruction Mapped by Appalachian voices
A small North Carolina, Non-profit organization called Appalachian voices made a video using Google Earth that shows the scale at which mountain tops are being destroyed due to coal mining.
9. Jane Goodall Institute Monitoring Forest Destruction
Jane Goodall Institue has an African program that works to protect and preserve great apes from deforestation due to poverty and poor farming. This causes the natural habitat of these apes to disappear which is why the Jane Goodall Institute’s program uses Google Earth to map these disappearing habitats in Tanzania and Uganda.
8. Amazon Sustainable Foundation Uses Street View To Create Awareness
Amazon Sustainable Foundation is a non-profit Brazilian organization that made use of the Google street view in an entirely unique and innovative method. They asked the Google Street view team to train locals to extensively capture the Amazonian landscape and forest so that when the outside world sees the natural beauty of the region it would stop deforestation and cutting of trees for timber. This led to locals using vehicles like trikes and boats to document the region.
7. Green Belt Movement Maps Tree Planting Projects
The Green Belt Movement (GBM) is an indigenous grassroots non-governmental organization based in Nairobi, Kenya. This organization motivates local women to participate in tree plantation for benefits such as prevention of soil erosion, restoration primary fuel for cooking, combat deforestation and climate change. Itt used Google Earth to map its sapling planting projects.
6. U.N. Environmental Programme Shows Urbanization in Shenzhen, China
The rapid urbanization and industrialization of Shenzhen city in China has not only troubled its local citizens but people all around the world are worried about the environmental problems the local population faces. The U.N. Environmental Programme created this map comparing the dramatic changes the city has undergone, and resulting environmental impact.
5. U.N. Environmental Programme Maps the Shrinking Aral Sea
The Central Asia’s Aral sea has been shrinking due to irrigation and water diversion that has been going on since 1960. U.N. Environmental programme documented the drastic reduction in its size using Google Earth and showed its now a quarter of its size that it was half a century ago.
4. U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Exposes the Genocide Crisis in Darfur
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum used Google Earth to expose the crisis caused by the genocide in Darfur. This map consists of testimonies and pictures of the burned villages and refugee conditions.
3. Deforestation mapped by Save the Redwoods League
In this map Save the Redwoods League depicted the importance of California Forest and its Deforestation.
2. Encyclopaedia of Life Tracks the Spread of Poisonous Algae
This organization tracks the spread of Killer Algae called “Sea Grapes”. It created a Google Earth Map to track this algae which is a serious threat to marine life.
1. Surui Forest Carbon Project
In Brazil, the Suruí tribe is using Google Earth Engine to measure the removal of trees from their rainforest by illegal loggers. Through the Suruí Carbon Project, several members of the community were given Android phones that allowed them to calculate the carbon emissions of trees in their forest. Now they can monitor their forests for suspicious changes by illegal loggers.