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Smile, You are on Camera

by Cindy on April 24, 2015

Have you ever thought about being photographed every time you are out in public without knowing?  There are so many tools today that can be used to capture photos that we don’t think about.  What about just sitting in the restaurant enjoying a family meal when the child at the table next to you is taking selfies and you are in the back ground?  Next thing is you are all over social media being blamed for photobombing; and you are totally clueless.

So, how does this affect the surveying world?  Today, we use airplanes, helicopters, UAV/ UAS/ Drones, robotic total stations, mobile LiDAR and terrestrial LiDAR.  All of these tools collect photographs.  Think of the Google™ car that drives around collecting street view photos for Google Earth™.  This is great tool to use to see an aerial view of a piece of property or click on “Street View™” and it is like you are driving along the road way.  So Many industries use this tool; but think about all the photos that are being collected during the process!  Now, Google™ does a good job of blurring out license plates and people’s faces but some of these photos that are collected are what we might call “priceless.”  Just do an internet search and you can find some of the funny photos that were collected. 

We did a project a few years ago with mobile LiDAR. We collected survey data along with photos.  We had to put a process in place to review the photos to make sure there were no pictures that might someday wind up on someone’s social media page.  And we did find a few pictures of people alongside the road doing things they probably shouldn’t be doing.  Those photos were removed and not delivered to the client.  Without these checking practices in place would could have delivered some interesting photos to clients.

And what about all of the video cameras?  If you watch crime TV shows they show how they access cameras all over town to catch the suspect.  Are there really that many video cameras around?  Yes, there are. Cities are using video cameras in downtown areas to help them control crime. Building owners are using them to help protect their business or tenants. And now home owners are installing them in their houses to help monitor and hopefully prevent crime.  The cameras are made so small now that most people can’t see them on the houses.  I was shopping at the local hardware store the other day and now there is a do–it–yourself video system that can be run from an app on your smart phone.  How convenient is that?

Now, I am not trying to scare people from being out in public and thinking they are constantly being watched, but I’ll bet now you will notice and look for cameras.  These are all great tools if they are used in the proper way.