HALO constantly seeks new technologies, and innovative ways to apply existing technologies to make the process of clearance both quicker and safer. We beneﬁt a great deal by working with partners like the global mapping specialists Esri and receive support from Google, Microsoft, and Carto on new information management and geographic information systems (GIS) that help us work more eﬀectively.
The US Department of Defense Humanitarian Demining R&D Program funds our ﬁeld research and we employ a full time Research and Development Oﬃcer, who runs trials around the world and provides training and support for the introduction of new techniques to our programmes.
Major innovations, such as hand-held ground penetrating radar, have brought 100 per cent-plus eﬃciency gains to HALO’s clearance work. But we have also specialised in the steady, step-by-step development of clearance techniques and the application of adapted oﬀ-the-shelf machinery – such as custom-designed rotors mounted on armoured tractors to clear anti-tank mines in Afghanistan.
In 2016 we expanded the use of ground-penetrating radar (GPR) within HALO to speed eﬃciency on the mineﬁeld, with teams using it in six programmes. This last year also saw new, web-based information management and GIS systems introduced to HALO’s programmes in Cambodia, Colombia and Ukraine.
Cheaper unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) means these are now viable tools for capturing high resolution imagery for surveying mineﬁelds, and are now being used on six programmes.
In 2017 we will work with Esri to develop the use of UAVs in an inspection role, looking for above-ground explosive devices such as IEDs and fragmentation mines.
Innovation is not limited to how we clear mineﬁelds. From new solar power systems providing electricity to remote demining camps, to recording clearance data on tablets and the development of our extensive monitoring and evaluation systems, innovation is a crucial part of improving HALO’s global eﬀectiveness.
HALO is constantly working to improve the way we monitor the impact of our work, drawing upon good practice from other development sectors such as food security and education. For the first time in the mine action sector, HALO developed standard definitions to measure beneficiaries of mine clearance - together with Mines Advisory Group and Norwegian People’s Aid – an innovation that will improve the way we assess our global impact. Beyond how many people benefit from our work, HALO uses drones and satellite imagery to record development over time before and after mine clearance.