Humanitarian disasters highlighted by new technology

The University of Plymouth is using the latest satellite imaging technology to highlight the horrors of human rights abuse and deliberate environmental damage in the most inaccessible parts of the world.

The University of Plymouth at Britannia Royal Naval College has been awarded high resolution satellite imagery to monitor and help prevent the human and environmental atrocities in the remote regions that the TV cameras cannot reach - including Sudan, Burma, Zimbabwe and West Papua.

Satellite imagery of sufficient resolution (1m) has only been available during the last decade and is finding uses in a wide range of applications from agriculture to disaster monitoring.

The award of the technology was made to Chris Lavers by the Geoeye Foundation, a not-for-profit philanthropic organisation based in the US.

The Foundation provides satellite imagery to educational institutions to advance research in geographic information systems and environmental studies, and to support non-governmental institutions in their missions of humanitarian support. It has only awarded the technology to researchers outside of the US on a rare number of occasions.

Chris Lavers is using the technology to further the work of leading humanitarian organisations including Amnesty International, Survival international and the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust. Imagery obtained by Lavers was also recently made available to the first prosecutor of the International Criminal Court at the Hague.

Lavers said; “My research for the University of Plymouth at the Britannia Royal Naval College is a ‘swords into ploughshares’ approach – to investigate the potential of military technologies for civilian applications.

“Satellite technology provides immediate access to inaccessible regions, enabling us to help maintain these human rights and environmental abuses in the public eye, as well as to further explore the potential of this exciting new technology.”

Lavers has just published the findings of his latest research and imagery on mining and human rights issues in West Papua (see link below).

His next project will be to look at the multispectral ‘fingerprint’ of polluted waters in the region.

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