Searching the Earth: Essential geolocation tools for verification

First Draft
Jul 24, 2015 · 5 min read

Googling Earth

For many investigations, Google Earth has become an essential tool for verifying images and videos and plays a key role in the process of geolocation. Geolocation is a verification method where the landmarks and features visible in photographs or videos can be compared against other images to help confirm where they were captured. At its most basic, Google Earth allows access to satellite imagery from across the globe but it also has a number of other features that play a useful role in verification.

The View from the Street

Ground level images are hugely useful for geolocation and can be accessed through street view features on Google Maps and Google Earth, which many people are familiar with. The Russian website Yandex Maps is less well known, but much of their collection of street view imagery is of locations not yet available on Google Street View.

A World of Geotags

Recently, new platforms have been developed that make geotags even more useful as part of the verification process. Yomapic is a free website that allows geographical searches of geotagged images posted to the popular Russian social media site VKontakte and Instagram. In the below example, Yomapic displays images posted from the Islamic State controlled town of Raqqa in the last week.

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Non-profit supporting truth & trust in news. @Comprova is our latest verification collaboration. firstdraftnews.org

First Draft

Non-profit tackling misinformation globally. Check out our website: firstdraftnews.org.