All joking aside, unexploded landmines pose serious, serious threats to post-war communities. In late 2010, it was reported at a UN Council meeting that 3,956 people died due to undetected explosives, without even taking into account the countless injuries and limbs lost in the aftermath. What’s more is they debilitate entire communities, paralyzing its citizens out of fear.
That’s where this new iPhone app, PETALS (pattern enhancement tool for assisting landmine sensing) comes in. In conflict areas, landmines are tracked with old fashioned metal detectors before being dug up. According to PETALS: “[I]n current practice, operators must stop and inspect every contact that could be a landmine, which slows down the demining process significantly. Both these challenges are exacerbated by newer landmines with minimal metallic content.”
The PETALS app seeks to minimize the potential for human error by taking out as much of the guesswork as it possibly can. Rather than relying on a deminer’s memory and retention of the metallic patterns in the ground, the app sketches things out, helping them determine two pivotal questions: 1) Is there a mine present? and 2) Where is the mine located? An admirable and much needed undertaking, if there ever was one.
Read more about the Harvard-based project here.
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