What is the first question anyone asks when seeing a photograph for the first time? Typically it’s “When was that taken?” or “Where was that taken?” Knowing the intimate details of photographs is important in any situation, but especially in a professional environment. Taking it one step further, in an intelligence-centric environment, a photograph might as well be a blank sheet of paper without knowing the 5 W’s: who, what, when, where and why.
Our military, law enforcement and similar assets face difficult challenges when dealing with intelligence collection and dissemination. The process can be frustrating, time consuming and inaccurate. Due to these inefficiencies, there are systems available to help improve the workflow. There are two main aspects of intelligence gathering that need to be evaluated when answering whether or not a system is required to allow for “Smart” photography: in-field capture and analysis and mapping (or photo mapping).
In-Field capture is the most basic aspect of photo intelligence. This is as simple as someone (or something) with a camera capturing shots. In a military or law enforcement environment, the photographer is also capturing location coordinates and other pieces of information as required by his mission. He is most likely doing this with a separate GPS device and a pad of paper. The time required and possibility of user-error is very high when using this method. A GPS-enabled camera automatically embeds the “Smart” info (5 W’s) into the photograph as a permanent record each time the shutter button is pressed. Accordingly, the operator in the field is enabled to take more photographs because he doesn’t have to do anything more than hit one button on the camera and quickly move on.
Analysis and mapping of photo intel is where the effort in the field is equated into a usable intelligence package. “Smart” photographs allow the analyst, intelligence officer, collection manager, etc. to make more efficient and quicker use of the data captured in the field. If the photographs were embedded with the answer to the 5 W’s, dissemination of collected intel is simple both in person and when geo-rectified in a mapping environment. Using a mapping application with queryable data in each photograph allows for further analysis in the future both locally and across a network. Also, due to the operator taking more photos because the capture is easier, the analyst or officer has more photographs to work with to increase the thoroughness of the final package.
“Smart” photographs allow for higher level collection and analysis than standard photographs. Using an integrated photo-intelligence system that includes a camera and a mapping application leads to an efficient, accurate and more informed chain of command.