Humanitarian Demining and the Cloud: Demining in Afghanistan and the Western Sahara

  • Peter Schmitz
  • Johannes Heymans
  • Arie Claassens
  • Sanet CarowEmail author
  • Claire Knight
Part of the Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography book series (LNGC)


Communities in war torn countries continue to face many life threatening situations long after the end of a war. These situations include the contamination of the environment by landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). One of the main objectives of mine action is to address problems faced by communities owing to landmine contamination. Since the removal of all landmines worldwide is improbable, the humanitarian demining sector focusses on removing landmines from areas where communities are most affected. Due to the decrease in donor funding, there is continued pressure for more effective and efficient mine action through improved and appropriate data collection, analysis and the use of the latest technologies. Proper data management, sharing of data in the collaborative cloud and improved decision support systems to prioritize areas for demining, will result in more effective mine action. This chapter will discuss humanitarian demining as one of the components of mine action and will emphasize the importance of mapping an area for demining purposes. The importance of data management for decision support systems to prioritize areas for demining is covered with specific reference to data collection, manipulation, dissemination and data quality. The important role that the collaborative cloud plays in data dissemination and sharing is expanded upon. Use cases of the collaborative cloud and humanitarian mapping are noted and the role of data security is described. The latest decision support systems for humanitarian mapping are briefly discussed. The main shortcoming of these decision support systems is the lack of a spatial analysis component. The development of a decision support tool based on a Geographical Information System is illustrated by referring to case studies in Afghanistan and Western Sahara. The successful use of the GIS based decision support system has consequently lead to the development of a spatial multi-criteria analysis tool. The spatial multi-criteria analysis tool emphasizes the importance of sharing data in the collaborative cloud and the use of quality data. This tool contributed to humanitarian demining and mapping by assisting in better and faster decision making processes at a reduced cost.


Humanitarian demining Humanitarian mapping Collaborative cloud Data management Decision support systems Multi-criterial decision support tool 


  1. Abadi DJ (2009) Data management in the cloud: limitations and opportunities. Bull Tech Committee Data Eng 32(1):3–12Google Scholar
  2. Agrawal D, Das S, Abbadi AE (2011) Big data and cloud computing: current state and future opportunities. EDBT 2011, 22–24 Mar 2011, ACM 978-1-4503-0528-0/11/0003Google Scholar
  3. Alencar P, Cowan D, McGarry F, Palmer MR (2014) Developing a collaborative cloud-based platform for waterhed analysis and management. s.l. In: IEEE international conference on collaborative computing: networking, applications and worksharing (CollaborateCom 2014)Google Scholar
  4. Ali O, Soar J, Yong J (2015) Collaborative cloud computing adoption in Australian regional municipal government: an exploratory study. Calabria, IEEEGoogle Scholar
  5. Anon (2016) Landmine monitor. Available at:, visited Jan 2018
  6. Armbrust M et al (2009) Above the clouds: a Berkeley view of cloud computing. University of California at Berkeley, CaliforniaGoogle Scholar
  7. Bradley T (2013) PC world. [Online] Available at:, visited Apr 2017
  8. Claassens A (2016) Dissertation on the development of a spatial multi-criteria decision analysis tool for land clearance prioritisation in mine action. University of Leeds, LeedsGoogle Scholar
  9. European Space Agency (2010) ESA GlobCover Portal. [Online] Available at:, visited May 2017
  10. Hamdaqa M, Tahvildari L (2012) Cloud computing uncovered: a research landscape. In: Memon A (ed) Advanced in computers, vol 89. Academic Print, San Diego, pp 41–84Google Scholar
  11. Hassan QF (2011) Cross talk: The Journal of Defense Software Engineering. [Online] Available at: Accessed 28 Apr 2017
  12. Heymans JM (2015) Effectiveness of GIS as a decision support system for mine action. University of Leeds, LeedsGoogle Scholar
  13. Hoang DB, Chen L (2010) Mobile cloud for assistive healthcare (MoCash). Hangzhou, IEEEGoogle Scholar
  14. ICRC (2012) Anti-personnel mines. [Online] Available at:, visited Jan 2018
  15. Kshetri N (2013) Privacy and security issues in cloud computing: the role of institutions and institutional evolution. Telecommun Policy 37:372–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Langholtz HJ (2014) Mine action and explosive hazard management: humanitarian impact, technical aspects and global initiatives. Peace Operations Training Institute, WilliamsburgGoogle Scholar
  17. Lehner B, Verdin K, Jarvis A (2008) New global hydrography derived from spaceborne elevation data. EOS Trans Am Geophys Union 89(10):93–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Mell P, Grance T (2011) The NIST definition of cloud computing. U.S. Department of Commerce, Gaithersburg, MDCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Michener WK (2015) Ten simple rules for creating a good data management plan. PLOS Comput Biol. 22 Oct 2015
  20. Moniruzzaman ABM, Hossain SA (2013) NoSQL database: new era of databases for big data analytics—classification, characteristics and comparison. Int J Database Theory Appl 6(4):2013Google Scholar
  21. NASA (2003) MODIS global land cover. [Online] Available at:, visited May 2017
  22. NIST (2016) NIST. [Online] Available at:, visited Apr 2017
  23. Oak Ridge National Laboratory (2012) LandScan data availability. [Online] Available at:, visited May 2017
  24. OpenStreetMap (2017) OpenStreetMap downloading data. [Online] Available at:, visited May 2017
  25. Rong C, Nguyen ST, Jaatun MG (2013) Beyond lighting: a survey on challenges in cloud computing. Comput Electr Eng 39:47–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Tutino M, Mehnen J (2013) Manufacturing paradigm shift towards better cloud computing in the military environment: a new model for collaboration in the operational information exchange networks. In: Li W, Mehnen J (eds) Cloud management. Springer, London, pp 243–256Google Scholar
  27. UNICEF (n.d.) The state of the world’s children. [Online] Available at:, visited 16 Apr 2017
  28. UNOG (n.d.) Anti-personnel landmines convention. [Online] Available at:, visited Apr 2017Google Scholar
  29. UNOG (n.d.) State parties and signatories. [Online] Available at:, visited Apr 2017Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Schmitz
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    • 6
  • Johannes Heymans
    • 2
    • 5
  • Arie Claassens
    • 2
    • 5
  • Sanet Carow
    • 2
    • 6
    Email author
  • Claire Knight
    • 2
  1. 1.CSIR Built EnvironmentBrummeria, PretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Esri South AfricaMidrandSouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of Geography, Geoinformatics and MeteorologyUniversity of PretoriaHatfield, PretoriaSouth Africa
  4. 4.Fakultät für Vermessung, Informatik und Mathematik, Hochschule für TechnikStuttgartGermany
  5. 5.School of Geography, Faculty of EnvironmentUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK
  6. 6.Department of GeographyUniversity of South AfricaJohannesburgSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations