WikiLeaks cable reveals GIS used to control plague in Libya

A cable from the WikiLeaks site reveals that the British pest control company Rentokil was contracted by the Libyan government to control outbreaks of the plague. Apparently the Libyans “suspected that the rodent population had developed a resistance to the anti-coagulant” they were using, and rats were feared to be spreading the Bubonic plague, which had broken out in Tobruk earlier in the year.

Here’s how the US Embassy in Tripoli described it in their August 30, 2009 cable:

4. (C) In Tripoli, Rentokil has 150,000 bait stations set-up to eradicate rats. Rentokil staff monitor the numbers of dead rodents they find on ground surfaces, which then allows them to estimate the numbers of rodents killed who have retreated to their holes in the ground. They have developed a grid system, using state-of-the-art information technology systems. The staff also use hand-held PDA devices to keep track of the data in the field. To overcome the challenge of Libya’s lack of street addresses or mapping grids, Rentokil has developed a mapping system using Satellite imagery and Google Earth; all the bait stations are plotted onto this system.

Reading between the lines of this rather imprecise description hints that Rentokil has some kind of adapted GIS with mobile devices. Interesting also that they use Google Earth


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