Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Searching for one white Nissan Patrol in Iraq

To recap: on October 9, 2003, Kirk von Ackermann's white Nissan Patrol suv was discovered abandoned on a remote road in the Jabal Hamrin mountains between Tikrit and Kirkuk just minutes after he was said to have called an employee for help with a flat tire. Where did the vehicle come from? Was he all alone on the road that day or were there other vehicles in close proximity? Did anyone from the Defense Intelligence Agency ever look through the satellite footage to track the journey of his vehicle from FOB Pacesetter to that remote road on a mountain pass?

U.S. military turns to TV for surveillance technology
By Julian E. Barnes, Los Angeles Times, June 7, 2010

The military once stored Predator video in much the same way it handled photos from a U-2 spy plane or a satellite: It chopped the video into short clips and filed it by date and location.

But new technologies developed by firms such as Harris Corp. and Lockheed Martin record the observations of analysts who monitor the video feeds, creating a database of terms and footage that can later be searched.

For instance, every time a white truck appears on video, an analyst will type "white truck." The observation automatically tags that portion of the video. Later, if someone wants to find all the white trucks that passed by a particular building, all they need to do is designate the area of interest and the time frame and search for "white truck."

The Air Force hopes that eventually, such emerging technology will automatically give people, places and vehicles more unique identifiers. Then, the database will be able to search for specific white trucks, such as one with a dented fender or any other unique mark.
Better late than never.

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