The Algorithm That Could Pinpoint Exactly Where Islamic State Videos Are Filmed: Scientists Say Software Could Help Identify ISIS Executioners
Mark Prigg, writing the Feb. 19, 2015) DailyMailOnline, writes that “Spanish researchers have unveiled software that can scan a video; and, pinpoint exactly where it was shot;” and, help intelligence analysts and others “locate the execution sites. Researchers from the Ramon Llull University (Spain) created the system capable of geolocating videos, by comparing their audiovisual content with a worldwide, multimedia database.”
“In the future,” Mr. Prigg writes, “this [technology/software] could help find people who have gone missing, after posting images on social networks; or, even to recognize locations of terrorist executions,” they said. “The method is based on the recognition of their images, or frames; and, all of the audio.” “Their acoustic information can be as valid as the visual, and on occasions, even more so — when it comes to geolocating a video.’ said Xavier Sevillano, one of the authors of the study. “In this field, we use some physics, and mathematical vectors — taken from the field of recognition of acoustic sources; because, they have already demonstrated positive results.’ “Many of the videos available online, are accompanied by text, which provides information on the place where it was filmed — but, there are others that do not present this information. This complicates the application of the ever more frequent geolocation tools of mutimedia content.”
“All of the data obtained, is merged together and grouped in clusters so that, using computer algorithms developed by the researchers, they can be compared with those of a large collection of recorded videos already geolocated around the world,” Mr. Prigg wrote. “In their study, published in the journal, ‘Information Sciences,’ the team has used almost 10,000 sequences as a reference from the MediaEval Placing Task audiovisual database, a bench-marking initiative, or assessment of algorithms for multimedia content.” “The videos, which are most similar in audiovisual terms, to what we want to find searched for in the database, to detect the most probable geographical coordinates,” Dr. Sevillano said. He added that “the proposed system, ‘despite having a limited database — in terms of size, and geographical coverage — is capable of geolocating videos, with more accuracy than its competitors.”
“More specifically,” Mr. Prigg writes, “it is capable of locating 3 percent of the videos within a ten-kilometer radius of their actual geographical location; and, in one percent of the cases — it is accurate to within one kilometer. The percentages are still modest; although, they are four times more precise than the accuracy reached up until now…using the same database. The researchers recognize that their method will require a much greater audiovisual base to apply it to the millions of videos that circulate on the Internet; but, they highlight its usefulness in locating those which do not have textual metadata; and the potential possibilities that it offers.”
“This method could help rescue teams to track down where a person, or group disappeared in a remote place, detecting the locations shown in the videos which could have been uploaded to a social network, before losing contact,’ Dr. Sevillano said. “In the future, security forces could also use it even to recognize locations of hostage executions and operations of terrorist groups such as al Qaeda or the Islamic State.” “Our system does not make any assumptions regarding the location of the videos, but in these cases, we are given very valuable additional information to limit the searches, as we already know that we are dealing with the area of Iraq or Syria; and, therefore, we would only use the reference videos from there,’ explained Dr. Sevillano.
“Another, much more immediate application is to facilitate geographical browsing in video libraries, such as YouTube, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this week,” Mr; Prigg wrote. “For example, if I want to go on holiday to New York; and, I feel like watching videos of Manhattan, when I type in search on YouTube, I get videos coming up recorded on the island; but, also the performance of the seventies group, The Manhattan’s, and the trailer of the Woody Allen film Manhattan, which are not relevant to my search,” comments Swevillano, “and in these cases, the new technology can also help.”
Interesting. This technology, one would expect, will get even better with time; and, eventually be portable; and, perhaps even something that can be worn on the arm or wrist and perhaps even merged into UAV’s sensors. And, using this geolocation data, along with signals intelligence, open source, and other collection entities — to provide a powerful intelligence picture to the battle commander, special operators, and rescue/first responders. I also wonder of there is any chance that this technology could eventually be adopted for maritime searches — both above and below the surface. Could we eventually use it for deep space probes and telescopes — to look for changes in the topography of the planets or asteroids. But, let’s hope for now, that this technology can be used to pinpoint the location/s of the Islamic State and al Qaeda, as well as for search and rescue — among other things. V/R, RCP