GIS Georeference: GIS Helps Rid The World of Land Mines

By: Samuel Viglietti, Intro to GIS Student

In the Winter of 2016, ESRI announced that it would team up with the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) to help rid the world of land mines in 40 countries. The announcement said that “ESRI will modernize its software that will play a central role in clearing land mines and unexploded ordnance in more than 40 countries.” ESRI’s company will develop some new mobile data collection apps and spatial analysis. The software company will be preparing this enhanced software for the Centre’s Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA).

The IMSMA makes mine action safer and more efficient and ESRI will be providing them the software to help locate and identify active land mines. GICHD ambassador Stefano Toscano said “Mine action is inherently geographic. It relies on identifying the location and spatial extent of explosive hazards and analyzing their proximity to vulnerable communities and assets. GIS is ideally suited for this work.”

The history between GICHD and ESRI began in 1998, when the software company was recruited for help by GICHD to help map out data and compile data of all mine action projects that could be tailored to each country’s clean up efforts. In fact, the IMSMA was created by ESRI. The database for IMSMA is only accessible for national agencies. In the last 20 years, the ESRI database IMSMA has become “arguably the single most advanced and widespread information system management tool in the humanitarian sector” as said by Toscano.

In 1999, the IMSMA was first deployed in Kosovo after the conflict between Albania and Yugoslavia. Once in Kosovo, the Mine Action Coordination Center (MACC) processed vast amounts of raw data about suspected land mines for their inclusion in the database. The information has since been distributed to fieldworkers (in real time) which has helped fieldworkers identify and verify true minefields and rule out rumored ones. Soon after GICHD amplified the IMSMA database once more including a tool called the Mine Action Intelligence Tool (MINT) which is an analysis tool used in the mine action community used for data analysis and reporting. In the future, GICHD reported that the organization along with ESRI plan to increase the number of interconnected tools and processes that can help configure what each countries need are for their minefields. They also plan to integrate existing ESRI’s solutions into the IMSMA so each countries database is up-to-date on functions, only available in the mine action community. Currently these functions are only available in beta form. One tool that is planned to be updated is ESRI’s Prioritization Tool (PriSMA) which allows decision makers to use spatial data to determine where resources can be dispatched. The partnership is planned for the next three years to help enable the use of GIS throughout the mine action community.

Today there are deaths associated with mines and the partnership between GICHD and ESRI is helping to lessen those deaths. Who knows: maybe the partnership will go on longer than three years.

(The red areas are where land mines are currently sitting). These are in Maputo, Mozambique.

*All information written for this summary is cited by ESRI.

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