April 4, 2012
Mineseeker Operations, the BVI-based landmine detection company, has released images of suspected landmines, buried beneath the surface.Mineseeker deployed the technology in Croatia late 2010 for an industry demonstration and has, for the first time, released a sample of processed data that clearly show remarkable images of sub- surface objects.
The technology uses ground-penetrating synthetic aperture radar (GPSAR) to detect suspicious objects beneath the surface and then fuses that technology with a photo-mosaic image to precisely map the location of buried objects for use by teams of landmine removal technicians who clear the terrain.
Using this breakthrough technology will dramatically reduce the cost and time it takes to clear minefields using just traditional techniques. Clearing a single square kilometre of minefield using only traditional methods involves thousands of man-hours at a cost of several million dollars and with risk to the clearance teams from unmapped landmines.
This new technology is not only safer and faster but it comes at a fraction of the cost: all of which means that huge tracts of former warzone land can now be cleared, reinhabited and put to work.
The Mineseeker product is developed from data captured by multiple sensors on-board a Robinson 44 helicopter, which can survey lands designated as mined at up to 5 square kilometres each day.
Reaffirming the United Nations’ commitment to work in cooperation with national authorities, territories, non-State actors, affected communities, and in partnership with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), donors, the private sector, international and regional organizations and others to reduce the humanitarian and socio-economic threats posed by mines and explosive remnants of war, Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon stated today on the International Day for Mine Awareness, “I call for universal adherence to these important treaties and for increased support for mine awareness and mine action. Landmines and explosive remnants of war hamper development and endanger lives. Let’s eliminate them together for a safe sustainable world”.
Landmines represent a massive, man-made disaster, in post-conflict areas that kill or maim civilians every day in over 70 countries. It also has a devastating effect on the economy of the countries affected that are unable to use land, designated as mined, for commercial use and the production of food crops.
It has been estimated by the United Nations that there are up to 100 million landmines buried beneath the surface of the earth and between 200 and 800 thousand square kilometres of land affected. Someone, usually a woman or child, steps on a landmine every 20 minutes. It cripples, maims or kills these innocent victims.
The cost of finding the landmines is huge and time consuming. It is estimated that, without new technology, it could take 500 years to rid the planet of landmines at a cost of $50 billion. The major cost is involved with laboriously searching for the buried objects. A mine operative can only clear 35 square metres per day, using a prodder.
To clear one square kilometre of land can cost more than $1 million, using traditional methods. The Landmine Monitor organisation stated that $637 million was spent on mine action in 2010 and only 200 square kilometres were cleared – more that $3 million per square kilometre.
Most of the cost is used searching for the buried object. Once located it is a simple and inexpensive process to remove the landmines.
It is estimated that 95% of the land searched by landmine operatives does not contain landmines but the threat prohibits use of the land.
Mineseeker will be able to survey the land at a rate of up to 5 square kilometres per day at a fraction of the cost and time it takes for traditional landmine clearance.
The plan is to survey the land, locate and ring fence the minefields and immediately release uncontaminated land back to the people for productive use. Once the minefields are located Mineseeker will produce multilayer maps, showing the location of the minefields so that landmine clearance companies can remove them quickly and safely.
The Mineseeker project began life 10 years ago with the formation of the Mineseeker Foundation. It tested the ground penetrating synthetic aperture radar (GPSAR) in Kosovo. However the equipment was heavy and had to be carried on an airship/blimp which was a vibration free platform. The cost was prohibitive, so Mineseeker formed a for-profit arm to raise finance in order to fund the deployment of a miniaturized system which now forms part of the company’s multi-spectral imaging radar (MIR).
The Mineseeker Foundation (www.mineseeker.org) whose founder Patron was Nelson Mandela, is now focused on landmine victim assistance.
More information on the technology can be found here:
More information on the Croatia deployment can be found here:
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