I read much these days about aerial video. Taken from drones, small aircraft or satellites. And used for surveillance, tracking wildfires, monitoring deforestation; to name but a few. So let me ask a question. Suppose I am monitoring a wildfire. I fly the area three times a day, flying the same route, and recording both video and the GPS location of the aircraft. I now want to analyse the video, maybe share with others. We can replay each video, pause where needed and share our thoughts on changes in size, direction. Maybe make a few notes. Much of our decision making is based on these video and eye witnesses on the ground. So my question. This approach is tried and tested and I am sure is successful. But can it be improved?

Let me make a suggestion; video annotation. What do i mean by that? Well, maybe we could actually draw on the video itself. Show the details of the fire; the current extent, areas of concern, mark threatened properties etc. Possibly make the process of video annotation collaborative. Maybe done over the Internet. Search functionality could be added. We could search for annotations done at certain locations, or done by individuals. Maybe we are monitoring the changes in the fire at a certain sensitive location. Each time we get a new video, we pause it at that location; mark on the video the new fire extent and current wind direction. At the end of the day we can search and show each of these annotated video frames and note the changes. Not only could this be used as an ongoing decision tool, but can be used later, maybe as part of an operational and decision review or for training.

Build into this tool conferencing abilities, where users can view and annotate the video from different locations over the Internet, and you have a decision support tool. Include GIS in the mix and you have a very powerful decision support tool.

We thought it an interesting challenge. So we pulled the pieces together and started building a demo.

GIS Video annotation

Figure 1 – Fly Over Video Annotation with Interactive Map

Flex Video Annotation – Interactive Maps

We realised early in the process that a map would be a prerequisite. The video would need some point of reference. We turned to OpenScales, the open source GIS Flex tool. In the demo we only included a basic interactive map, with zoom and pan capabilities and streets basemap. But OpenScales can provide GIS functionality. So if we wanted spatial analysis or buffering, measure or other tools, they could be added. High resolution satellite imagery can also be used for the basemap. Figure 2 shows the mapping interface. The path flown by the aircraft or drone is provided by KML. In the demo we have two flight paths marked in blue.

OpenScales Flex Map

Figure 2 – OpenScales Flex Map

Figure 3 below shows the flight path. There are two markers on the path. The first marks the aircraft or drones position and is synced with the video. The green marker is a camera, this marks the position of an annotated frame. Selecting this brings up the image viewer, which we will discuss in due course.

Flight Path and Annotated Frame Marker

Figure 3 – Flight Path and Annotated Frame Marker

Flex Video

The right pane of the application window contains the video, annotation tool and image viewer. Two buttons at the top of the pane allow users to switch between the video and the annotation tool. Figure 4 shows the video player. It has pause, play, replay and volume controls.

Flex Video Player

Figure 4 – Flex Video Player

Flex Video Annotation Tool

When a user selects the ‘Annotation Image Screen’ button the video is paused and a snapshot of the paused video frame is displayed in the tool window. Users can now annotate this frame of the video by holding down left mouse button and dragging across the image. In the bottom left is a colour picker tool. This changes the colour of the line drawn. Two additional buttons allow users to erase all annotations and save the annotated image to the server.

Originally we had planned to annotate the video itself. It struck us that by annotating individual frames as images, this allowed easier comparison between frames annotated at different times. Allowing annotated frames of specific sensitive areas to be compared and more easily found in a search. So this snapshot approach we thought more powerful.

GIS Video annotation

Figure 5 – Fly Over video annotation with interactive map

Flex Image Viewer

In the top right corner of the application header is a search tool. This allows users to search for specific images. Currently this searches by image name; in our demos case if the title contains the word ‘frame’, these images will be loaded in the image viewer. But if this were done by GPS location, for example, then a search could be done for all images annotated at the specific sensitive area.

GIS Video annotation

Figure 6 – Image Search Tool

The image viewer is shown below in Figure 7. It displays images based on an image search. At the moment all annotated videos contain the word ‘frame’. So the image viewer shows all currently annotated images. But, as described above, a powerful search can be implemented which searches against date, location, annotator or any other stored metadata attached to individual images. The image viewer displays thumbnails in the lower screen. Clicking a thumbnail displays this images enlarged in the upper area. We imagine in the future images could be displayed side by side in the viewer to aid comparison.

Image Viewer

Figure 7 – Image Viewer


Though done largely as a proof of concept, we think this could be a very powerful decision support tool. We did not add conferencing ability in the demo. But this would allow for distributed collaboration. With the advent of tablet computers like the IPad, this would allow interaction with eyewitnesses on the ground. In addition, the mapping components offers the potential for additional spatial analysis.

Related Resources

Contact us to learn more about this application.

Share on Twitter
 Twitter | Share on Facebook Facebook | Buzz This Google Buzz | Delicious Bookmark on Delicious

Schedule Free ArcGIS Consultation
Our goal is to help you successfully apply ArcGIS to solve your business problems. Conducted by an ArcGIS expert, our free 30 min consultation will help move you forward.
Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.
Our blog is filled with lively discussion, news, ideas. We take a fresh perspective on the rapidly changing world of GIS. Don't miss a post ... join over 1000 of your peers.
Do you want massive traffic?
Dignissim enim porta aliquam nisi pellentesque. Pulvinar rhoncus magnis turpis sit odio pid pulvinar mattis integer aliquam!
  • Goblinus globalus fantumo tubus dia montes
  • Scelerisque cursus dignissim lopatico vutario
  • Montes vutario lacus quis preambul den lacus
  • Leftomato denitro oculus softam lorum quis
  • Spiratio dodenus christmas gulleria tix digit
  • Dualo fitemus lacus quis preambul pat turtulis
* we never share your e-mail with third parties.
Are you looking for advice or help with ArcGIS? We are happy to share with you our thoughts and expertise to move you forward. Fill out the form below and we will be in contact soon.
Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.
Our goal is to help get started and maximize GIS ROI. Conducted by on of our GIS experts, our free 1 hr Discovery Workshop will provide you a GIS road-map.
Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.
Schedule a GeoAppSmart Demo
GeoAppSmart for ArcGIS we have designed with flexibility in mind. Let us show you how the app works. Fill out the form below, and we will contact you to set up a demo.
Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.
Request a Demo
Learn more about GeoAppSmart for ArcGIS. Schedule a demo. We can show you the features of this is a new breed on super flexible ArcGIS apps..
Our blog is filled with lively discussion, news, ideas. We take a fresh perspective on the rapidly changing world of GIS. Don't miss a post ... join over 1000 of your peers.
Subscribe now to our free daily newsletter and get special offers and 20% discount.
More than just MOBILE .. All device ArcGIS apps are finally HERE!
GeoAppSmart for ArcGIS is one of a new breed of web based ArcGIS apps which:

  • Runs on any device - PC, laptop, smartphone, tablet
  • Can be used anywhere - Online or offline
  • Infinitely flexible - Built using plug-in tools
  • Easy to set up, configure and use

Download our new eBook, and learn more about these new super flexible web apps.
* we never share your e-mail with third parties.
New to ArcGIS Online and wondering how to GET STARTED?
Our free eBook 'Success with ArcGIS: Your Roadmap' will walk you through the critical success elements:

  • Defining the problem
  • Evolving the story
  • Building the runway
  • Solution implementation

If you are looking to JUMPSTART your deployment and use of ArcGIS Online this eBook is for you.
* we never share your e-mail with third parties.
Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Our newsletter is filled with news, tips, tutorials and lively discussion focused on the exciting, rapidly evolving world of GIS. Join over 2000 of your peers.
Wondering about Mobile GIS?
Our free eBook 'Your Guide to Mobile GIS' will help you get started and move forward with this exciting technology. We cover:

  • Your mobile GIS options
  • Provide case studies
  • Discuss best choices
  • Look ahead

If you are looking to improve how your mobile staff get their work done. This free eBook is for you.
* we never share your e-mail with third parties.
Want to get the most out of ArcGIS Online?
Our free eBook 'Success with ArcGIS Online' will walk you through the critical success elements including:

  • The Why
  • The Who
  • The How
  • The Where

If you are looking to get started or maximize your ArcGIS Online ROI, this eBook is for you.
* we never share your e-mail with third parties.
IoT on Map - Real-Time Reporting, Tracking and Monitoring Made Simple
Download our free Internet of Things eBook. Learn how to easily track moving assets, monitor fixed assets and report problems in real-time. Simple, flexible and affordable.
Want to get the most out of ArcGIS Online?
Download our free eBook 'Success with ArcGIS Online'. The eBook walks you through the key success elements: the why, who, how and where. Get started or maximize your ArcGIS Online ROI.
Sign up for our free GIS Discovery Workshop
Wondering how to get started or maximize your GIS ROI? Our free 1 hour workshop is designed to provide you a road-map to success with GIS. Sign up for it today.