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1/14/2010
04:45 PM
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Google Earth Gets Haiti Earthquake Imagery

Tech companies are mobilizing to provide information to relief groups and financial assistance.

Working with satellite imaging company GeoEye, Google on Wednesday evening updated its imagery of Haiti to reflect the devastation of Tuesday's earthquake.

The move comes following requests from relief organizations for recent images of the country.

The images, taken at about 10:27am EST, are available as a KML overlay for Google Earth. They can also be viewed using Google Maps.

The difference between the images of Haiti's streets before the quake and afterwards leaves no doubt about the extent of the devastation there: Whole city blocks lie in ruins.

Like a number of other technology companies, Google aims to assist with the relief effort and has pledged $1 million to help do so. It has established a Web page to solicit financial assistance for victims of the disaster.

It is also encouraging Internet users to help map Haiti using Google Map Maker, in order to make sure relief workers have the most current geo-data.

The Red Cross is estimating that as many as 45,000 to 50,000 may be dead as a result of the earthquake; Haiti's prime minister has said the number of casualties may reach 100,000.

Other companies are also providing disaster assistance too. Fortius One, working with CrisisCommons and OpenStreetMap, has put together a news dashboard for aggregate data from volunteers and official sources.

Apple has set up a donation system through its iTunes software.

Texting "Haiti" to 90999 will donate $10 to the Red Cross.

Those wishing to donate to relief efforts should be aware that not every relief effort is legitimate. US-CERT is warning Internet users to be wary of e-mail scams and search engine poisoning campaigns that attempt to exploit interest in the Haitian earthquake.

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