This week, MAG features in the prestigious Royal Society’s flagship annual Summer Science Exhibition — which aims to bring science to life for people of all ages.
It brings together organisations from across the UK to demonstrate their research through innovative digital experiences, from escape rooms and quizzes to virtual tours and digital games.
The event will be fully digital between 8 and 11 July.
With MAG deminers from across the world transformed into 8-bit computer game characters, and a 360° video experience showing clearance happening in a minefield in Cambodia, 'Sensing Danger' gives attendees an insight into the life-saving work being done to achieve a landmine free 2025.
More than 60 million in almost 60 countries still live with the daily risk of landmines and unexploded bombs. These deadly and indiscriminate weapons kill and injure around 15 people every day, and almost half of the civilian casualties are children.
Innovation is a central theme of the Summer Science Exhibition and, for MAG, it has been central to our work for more than three decades.
Since 1989, MAG has been at the forefront of action against landmines, pioneering new and innovative methods to make mine clearance faster, more effective, and more inclusive.
In the late 1990s, MAG became the first organisation to make community liaison a central part of programming, putting the people and communities we support at the heart of our work.
Community liaison is now seen as integral to combating the threat of landmines and unexploded bombs. A key element is explosive ordnance risk education — warning people about the dangers posed by the deadly legacy of conflict and giving them the life-saving information needed to stay safe and report any potentially threatening items.
Crucially, community liaison staff also get invaluable insight into how the presence of these weapons affect people’s lives, enabling MAG to better target mine action resources to the areas of greatest need.
In the last 18 months, MAG has developed the use of digital platforms to deliver life-saving lessons alongside traditional face-to-face sessions. These new digital methods have proven to be particularly effective in urban settings and with young people who are often the hardest to reach.
They have also proven vital amidst a global pandemic where states have restricted person-to-person contact to help curb the spread of infection.
Digital life-saving lessons were first piloted in Iraq in 2019 in partnership with Facebook and the US government. In just a year, the project supported more than one million men, women, girls and boys in northern Iraq with messages on how to stay safe from the deadly legacy of conflicts stretching back to the 1980s.
Today, the digital life-saving lessons project is being expanded in Iraq and rolled out across multiple MAG programmes, including Lebanon, Vietnam, and Somalia. We hope to reach almost 10 million people living with the deadly legacy of conflict.
And it is not just innovations in life-saving lessons. MAG teams launched a pilot project in Iraq in 2020 to harness digital satellite technology to address the legacy of one of the most devastating forms of conflict; the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
Clearing landmines and unexploded bombs in towns and cities can take six times longer than in rural contexts and is vastly more expensive, but the need for clearance is among the greatest of any context.
Clearing the deadly legacy of conflict is the necessary foundation upon which cities and towns are rebuilt, allowing refugees and the people displaced by war to return home.
By building up a digital library of satellite images in the immediate aftermath of urban conflict, MAG can make an early assessment of the scale of contamination and better plan and deploy mine action resources.
Ultimately, the project aims to make urban clearance faster and more efficient.
As well as the brave women and men working for MAG who are helping to make the world a safer place, mine detection dogs are also playing their part.
New mine detection dogs, trained to sniff out the specific components used in improvised landmines and explosive devices, have joined the MAG team in Iraq. The programme is the first of its kind for humanitarian mine action.
Like the traditional mine detection dogs (and rats) already working with MAG, these dogs are trained to smell explosives. However, what makes them unique, is they can also sniff the specific components used in improvised landmines and explosive devices, such as wires, batteries and rubber.
Searching for improvised landmines in low and medium risk areas, these mine detection dogs work with their human colleagues to speed up the process of demining, removing the deadly threat of mines and returning valuable land to communities quicker.
From communities to canines, from Facebook to face-to-face risk education, MAG is constantly pushing to innovate mine action for the simple reason that nobody should have to live trapped by the fear of landmines and unexploded bombs.
To learn more about technology and innovation in mine action, and the global issue of landmines, visit Sensing Danger at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.