Google Maps Used To Mark Pirate Attacks

    November 20, 2008

Google’s been known to track all sorts of stuff, including search trends, wildfires, and the flu.  Now Google Maps and Google Earth are being used to record the locations of what might qualify as an even more interesting thing: pirate attacks.

Let’s start with the more official of two documents.  The International Chamber of Commerce has put something together based on incidents described to the International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Centre.  This Live Piracy Map 2008 makes the sea look like a pretty scary place, especially around much of Africa and southern parts of Asia.

Then, to switch sources and become much more specific, we can move to what a member of the Google Earth Community who goes by the screen name "expedition" created.   His map focuses on the coast of Somalia, and is detailed almost beyond belief.

Google Somalia Pirates
 Pirate Attacks Around Somalia

"See the building compounds where pirates and warlords cache arms, plan their attacks, obtain ransom, and communicate with the ships they seize offshore," writes expedition.  "View the actual pirate bases, vehicles, checkpoints, and pirate boats.  Locate the precise areas of the sea where vessels are hijacked, and where the pirates drop anchor to hold their crews for ransom.  Find secret airstrips where pirate crews get their daily fix of addictive khat leaf stimulant flown in.  View the places where commandos have captured pirates fleeing or targeted their land-based resources."

We can’t vouch for expedition’s "extensive independent research," of course, and the anti-pirate actions of several navies may soon throw his map out of kilter, anyway.  But regardless, these documents are fascinating, and a hat tip goes to Frank Taylor and the Google Earth Blog.