Holocaust museum teams with Google on Darfur project

Washington, D.C.-based museum releases downloadable "layers" that give Google Earth users a tool for learning about the genocide. Images: Museum mashup shows Darfur destruction

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has teamed up with Google Earth to create a way of visualizing and better understanding the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.

The was launched Tuesday at a press conference in Washington, D.C., where the Holocaust Memorial Museum is located. Interested Web users can now the Google Earth layer, which contains interactive content assembled by the museum, including photographs, data, and eyewitness testimonies. With the Crisis in Darfur layer, users can zoom in on detailed satellite photographs of the destruction in Sudan: more than 1,600 villages that have been damaged or destroyed, and more than 100,000 structures including mosques, schools, and homes.

The information in the Crisis in Darfur layer was derived from a variety of sources, including the U.S. State Department, the United Nations, individual photographers, and the museum's own content.

This is the first installment of the Genocide Prevention Mapping Initiative, an ongoing collaboration between the Museum and Google Earth that aims to better inform the world--from citizens to governments to institutions like universities and nonprofit groups--on humanitarian crises around the world. Additionally, the museum has announced the creation of "Mapping the Holocaust," a similar map layer to visualize and chart the history of the Holocaust in Europe. That layer is also available now, but will be updated over time with expanded information.

Google Earth was launched in June 2005 and now boasts more than 200 million users worldwide. It, along with similar 3D mapping applications from competitors, has become more than just a geography tool. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency announced earlier this year that it plans to use the Google Earth to map out toxic wastelands, and layers of additional content have been contributed by such sources as the U.S. National Park Service and the Discovery Network.