Help Crowdsource Satellite Imagery Analysis for Syria: Building a Library of Evidence

Update: Project featured on UK Guardian Blog! Also, for the latest on the project, please see this blog post.

This blog post follows from this previous one: “Syria – Crowdsourcing Satellite Imagery Analysis to Identify Mass Human Rights Violations.” As part of the first phase of this project, we are building a library of satellite images for features we want to tag using crowdsourcing.

In particular, we are looking to identify the following evidence using high-resolution satellite imagery:

  • Large military equipment
  • Large crowds
  • Checkpoints
The idea is to provide volunteers the Standby Volunteer Task Force (SBTF) Satellite Team with as much of road map as possible so they know exactly what they’re looking for in the  satellite imagery they’ll be tagging using the Tomnod system:

Here are some of the pictures we’ve been able to identify thanks to the help of my good colleague Christopher Albon:
I’ve placed these and other examples in this Google Doc which is open for comment. We need your help to provide us with other imagery depicting heavy Syrian military equipment, large crowds and checkpoints. Please provide links and screenshots of such imagery in this open and editable Google Doc.Here are some of the links that Chris already sent us for the above imagery:


21 responses to “Help Crowdsource Satellite Imagery Analysis for Syria: Building a Library of Evidence

  1. Pingback: The Revolution(s) Are Being Televised « Another Word For It

  2. Pingback: Combining Crowdsourced Satellite Imagery Analysis with Crisis Reporting: An Update on Syria | iRevolution

  3. I suggest to Patrick Meier to start crowdsourcing on Israeli check-points, road-blocks, concentration of military centers in Jewish colonies in the Palestinian occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza. Let us be fair and equitable in matters related to human rights, regardless of what States like to define their political systems and disseminate false images.

  4. very helpful for the people of Syria

  5. This seems to be a pretty good project that you have going on. I’d like to stay in touch with how this is going.

  6. How do you know the remote sensed images are up to date? If I pull up my home on Google Earth or Google Maps, it is from 2009. If I view it in ArcMap or Manifold GIS, it is slightly older depending on the local gov.

    ??? Chasing a ghost ???

  7. Pingback: The Syrian War Crowdsourcing Experiment » The Global Market

  8. Pingback: The Syrian War Crowdsourcing Experiment | Fast Company

  9. Great blog post keep up the good work, very E-Democratic.

  10. Pingback: The Syrian War Crowdsourcing Experiment

  11. Pingback: Combining Crowdsourced Satellite Imagery Analysis with Crisis Reporting: An Update on Syria

  12. Great shots. The tanks are scarey. It makes you wonder what else they have doesn’t it.

  13. Hi Patrick,
    Love what your doing; however you should probably develop some proper imagery keys so that people can identify these things and associate IDs with units. For instance, your IDs for the equipment above are as follows
    1) towed artillery:probably 3 x 155 mm D-20,
    2) your tanks….. difficult to say with the quality of the imagery, (would need to manipulate imagery)
    3) Aircraft: 2 x MiG-21 FISHBED (one on left doesn’t have horizontal stabilizers attached and is non-operational)
    4) support trucks (depending on location) could be associated with certain military equipment (for eg mortar batteries); would also see location for other identifiers
    5) In the document (not-pictured above), you have Mi-8-17 HIP and the Mi-24 HIND – the former can be a troop carrier and the latter a gunship but the former can also have wing pods attached like the UB-32 (similar to what the Libyan fighters were mounting on their trucks, salvaged from crashed helos); in addition you should note that you have tagged the BMD-2 as a tank as opposed to an armored personnel carrier. (The news gets this wrong all the time)

    If you have questions or would like any suggestions for imagery analysis, I’m at your disposal. (btw i recently signed up as a volunteer as well and can be found on the network)


    • Hi Chris,

      Many thanks for your solid feedback, really appreciate. Very glad to know you’ve joined the SBTF. Your expertise will be invaluable for the Satellite Imagery Team.

      Thanks again,

    • Wow, thanks for sharing, Joe, hadn’t seen this yet, guess it was just published a few hours ago. I suppose, vis-a-vis my blog post, that one could argue that the USG could have made this type of information public 6 months ago in order to expose the brutality of the regime? And that a humanitarian drone might have exposed this earlier? In any case, this is a very interesting development, thanks a lot for sharing!

  14. Pingback: Drones for Human Rights: Brilliant or Foolish? | iRevolution

  15. Pingback: Not just for geeks: digital technologies and social media for the prevention of mass atrocities | Will Write for Prevention

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