Google Earth: A Tool For Social Change

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Google Earth are teaming up to raise awareness and hopefully promote social change in the Darfur region of Sudan.

The online mapping initiative. Crisis in Darfur enables more than 200 million Google Earth users worldwide to visualize and better understand the genocide currently unfolding in Darfur, Sudan.

The timing of the announcement and the initiative itself may have something to do with criticism Google has received recently over displaying pre Katrina images of New Orleans in Google Maps, but regardless of the motivation I applaud both Google and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for using technology to help prevent atrocities around the world.

Crisis in Darfur is the first project of the Museum´┐Żs Genocide Prevention Mapping Initiative that will over time include information on potential genocides allowing citizens, governments, and institutions to access information on atrocities in their nascent stages and respond.

The museum is also making use of Google Earth to map the Holocaust. The museum will be mapping key Holocaust locations and add historic content from it’s collection. Each location on the map will link to a featured article with images, clips, and film footage among other documents.

Google Earth is a free download and you can read Google’s press release for more information.

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.


  1. Google was pretty smart to embed a web browser and ajax, or something like it, into the UI of Google Earth itself. The app was great to begin with, but this extra layer of context makes it so much more useful.

    The Economist reported that Iraqis are using Google Earth to plan escape routes as the violence approaches.

    Google Earth has to be one of the coolest software inventions of the century.

  2. You know I haven’t downloaded Google Earth so I’m not sure what it’s like. After hearing about this initiative I will download it. It’s nice to see things like this and maybe ushmm and Google can manage to make some parts of the world a better place than they are now.

    What you’re describing about it sounds interesting. Actually I did download it as I wrote this post, but haven’t installed it yet. I hadn’t realized Google added a browser onto it. I kept thinking of it as something like Google Maps, but it sounds like it’s more.

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