Flickr photo data used to predict people's locations

photo
Credit: Petr Kratochvil/public domain

A team of researchers with University College in England has found a way to use photo information attached to images uploaded to the sharing site Flickr to create an application that can predict where people will be at a given time. In their paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the team describes how they used millions of photos publicly available on the popular web site and the data attached to them to create a database which was then accessed to provide data for an algorithm they developed.

Many people are still unaware that a lot of modern cameras, especially those on smartphones, add data to that can be accessed by others if those images are made publicly available—such as on file-sharing websites. One such data item is GPS coordinates which pinpoint where on the planet the photograph was taken, another is a timestamp specifying exactly when the photo was taken. In this new effort the researchers accessed such data by pulling photographs off of Flickr that had been put there by people wanting others to see what they had captured—in this case, by people in the United Kingdom. In all, the team obtained GPS and timestamp data from 8 million images taken by approximately 16,000 people and put it into a database for easy access.

Next, they created a that looked at all of the pictures taken by a single camera, noting all the locations where pictures had been taken—over and over again for every unique camera ID in their dataset. The algorithm then used that information to predict future movements based on past movements, of whole groups of people. To test it, they compared their results with a government survey taken to discern national travel patterns and found that the two agreed approximately 92 percent of the time. The team reports that they could also focus on individuals (or at least their cameras) and predict where that person might be at any given moment.

The research done by the team highlights both privacy issues and concerns regarding shared photographs and a new way for governments to track people movement, which could help with road building plans, or other transportation projects.


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Digital photos could put kids at risk

More information: Modelling human mobility patterns using photographic data shared online, Royal Society Open Science, Published 12 August 2015.DOI: 10.1098/rsos.150046

Abstract
Humans are inherently mobile creatures. The way we move around our environment has consequences for a wide range of problems, including the design of efficient transportation systems and the planning of urban areas. Here, we gather data about the position in space and time of about 16 000 individuals who uploaded geo-tagged images from locations within the UK to the Flickr photo-sharing website. Inspired by the theory of Lévy flights, which has previously been used to describe the statistical properties of human mobility, we design a machine learning algorithm to infer the probability of finding people in geographical locations and the probability of movement between pairs of locations. Our findings are in general agreement with official figures in the UK and on travel flows between pairs of major cities, suggesting that online data sources may be used to quantify and model large-scale human mobility patterns.

Journal information: Royal Society Open Science

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User comments

Aug 12, 2015
I am glad they got this thing. The only thing I know for certain is where I am going to end up. Otherwise, I do not know where I am half the time, and the other half times I do not know where I am going. I need that algorithm.

Aug 13, 2015
Big Brother loves this.

Aug 13, 2015
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Aug 13, 2015
"Big Brother loves this"

-The source of georges idiot one-liners
http://www.zazzle...83750718

Aug 13, 2015
The source of my statement is my participation in "Electronic Reconnaissance" helping to build, deploy and operate the Electronic Battlefield 1967-69. It is also influenced by my 24 months as Deputy Foreperson for Federal Criminal Grand Jury 06-2.

What is the source of your post? Psychological problems?

Aug 13, 2015
The source of my statement is my participation in "Electronic Reconnaissance" helping to build, deploy and operate the Electronic Battlefield 1967-69. It is also influenced by my 24 months as Deputy Foreperson for Federal Criminal Grand Jury 06-2.

What is the source of your post? Psychological problems?
Ahaahaaaaaaa you were a 20yo private fetcher, box carrier, plugger-inner and switch-thrower who spent his evenings sleeping in a bangkok hotel.

Only a psychopath would think that this 'experience' gives him special insight into the nature of govt surveillance.

And EVERYONE here can see how ridiculous this is, but you.

This is how SICK you are.

Aug 13, 2015
While we were busy in 1968, one day I wondered aloud how soon that technology would be used against us, and was surprised to hear unanimity in agreement in the entire shop.

Now I do not trust anybody with power over me.

Aug 13, 2015
If you want to see how it got to where we are today, look up Igloo White, 1stwave, or the 553d Recon Wing at Westin's site.

The personal snipers on this thread have no idea how it all worked, and how we got to where we are today with Big Brother. Such is the price of monomania and ego problems.

Aug 13, 2015
"While we were busy in 1968, one day I wondered aloud how soon that technology would be used against us, and was surprised to hear unanimity in agreement in the entire shop... Now I do not trust anybody with power over me"

-Yeah I thought the same thing while walking through a radio shack one day.

And then I opened up a copy of mother jones and realized just how singularly brilliant I was.

Im becoming convinced that psychopathy is a reflection of just how intellectually deficient the psychopath is.

After all, how stupid do you have to be to think that looking at hardware and getting concurrence from fellow fetchits would give one special insight into the nature of govt surveillance?

'Oh yeah big brother sucks man. Pass the doobie.' -And thus was borne a genius (in his own mind)

"ook up Igloo White, 1stwave, or the 553d Recon Wing at Westin's site"

-No, post a link you lazy asshole. NOBODY believes a word you say here.

Psychopaths are pathological liars.

Aug 13, 2015
I love this, otto. I get to show what we really did in the war, . . those of us who actually served. I got to prove my experience at the Air force Flight Test Center, and in Igloo White, all because of your taunts.

You made me prove I tested carbon fiber materials for NASA, did the tests for the NRC, and taught Power Quality nationwide.

Who are you?

Aug 13, 2015
"I get to show what we really did in the war"

-Uh no you didnt. You claimed you were working directly for mcnamara designing, constructing, and operating your spy network.

IN REALITY you were a 20yo private laborer who had no idea how the equipt was designed or what it was for.

You lied. Again.

"I tested carbon fiber materials for NASA, did the tests for the NRC"

-You were a job shopper doing temp validation work, and indications are that you were let go after so many months for incompetence no doubt.

"and taught Power Quality nationwide"

-You washed out of your temp engr job at PG&E and so they assigned you to a team teaching position, delivering presentations prepared by real pros.

This gave you another opportunity to pretend you were something that you were not.

But this combined work only lasted a few years, and you were canned yet again.

You yourself have provided all the evidence needed to reach these conclusions.

You fucked up yet again george.

Aug 13, 2015
How do we get these psycho cases off the forum? The character hiding behind the pseudonym "otto" has already bragged he is here to play "games" with the rest of us. When I exposed his bragging, he got mad, and now follows me around attacking my character, only to reveal his own instead.

My experience in the service in Electronic Reconnaissance really has him bugged. Those stay-at-home "patriots" have no idea what real service is like in wartime.

Aug 13, 2015
"How do we get these psycho cases off the forum? The character hiding behind the pseudonym "otto" has already bragged he is here to play "games" with the rest of us. When I exposed his bragging, he got mad, and now follows me around attacking my character"

-So what 'character' does one need to lie like this;

"You claimed you were working directly for mcnamara designing, constructing, and operating your spy network.

"IN REALITY you were a 20yo private laborer who had no idea how the equipt was designed or what it was for."

EXPLAIN this bullshit please george.

"have no idea what real service is like in wartime"

-Well as a lowly tech, neither do you.

Thats ovbious.

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