Google Earth helping Iraqis survive violence in Baghdad

Published: Thursday 15 March 2007

Iraq's beleaguered people have an unlikely ally in the search engine Google. Its online satellite map, Google Earth, is being used to help people survive violence in Baghdad.

As sectarian strife has worsened, some Iraqis have set up websites to help others avoid death squads. One tip--on the Iraq League site--is for people to draw up maps of their local area using Google Earth's imaging of Baghdad so they can work out escape routes and routes to block. With Google Earth, the Iraq League website suggests, people can also work out the most likely approach of their attackers. The Iraq League is based in the uk.

But us-led forces in Iraq seem to regard the search engine as a bit of a mixed bag. While they haven't exactly complained against the use of the search engine for succour, they are smarting at being 'outgoogled' by the resistance forces.

In January, British troops conducting raids in Basra found printouts of aerial maps from Google Earth detailing the coordinates for British camps in the area. Though dated, the maps revealed locations of buildings, tents, and other vulnerable areas of British forces.

A week or so after the discovery, and after negotiations with the British government, Google replaced the geospatial pictures found by insurgents--taken in 2004--with images taken in 2002, prior to the invasion by the us-led coalition forces.

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