USC’s GeoDec Project: At the Crux of 3D Visualization and Privacy Concerns

The Geospatial Decision Making visualization/simulation project is one of many research focii at the University of Southern California’s Integrated Media Systems Center (IMSC). GeoDec conflates various data on a 3D desktop application which extends upon Google Earth-like technology to provide advanced temporal data integration.

The inherent value of innovations like GeoDec as journalistic tools are rivaled by the intense privacy issues they present as online, desktop and handheld applications on the cutting-edge of 3D visualization and real-time multimedia data.

GeoDec as a technology and concept is mind-baffling, difficult to describe in English, and worthy of poignant headaches in my aim to comprehend it. I admire the work of the numerous faculty, staff and countless hours/years several Ph.D. students have invested in the project and their willingness to teach me about it. (list of people involved here).

One example of GeoDec in action is real-time tracking of USC’s tram system on a 3D virtual map of the campus. Where is the most convenient tram to my location right now? This is infinitely useful data — not only as applied to transportation, but as applied to, let’s say, mashing up video and sensory data of a live wildfire with real-time weather conditions, etc, to predict its path.

But when it comes to real-time — and video — privacy alarms abound. No matter how much grant and research money is infused into such innovation, it’s impossible to look past the intrusion issues. Surveillance cameras are everywhere. I’m not gonna look it up nor do I really wants to know how many cameras would capture me while strolling the streets of Los Angeles, London, or New York. Granted, much of the video is eventually scrapped and even more is never seen by a human eye.

But with the GeoDec interface, it is possible to call up specific geographic areas or points and view a time lapse video stream for a given time period. A 360 degree shot of Disney Hall, archived and animated — you can get that from Google Earth. But a 360 shot of the Coliseum after the USC-Nebraska game with live video — this is where GeoDec gets, lets just say, provocative.

I’m interested in thoughts and feedback, as well as suggestions for deeper research — both for the GeoDec team, and for my dissection of exactly what the project means to the future of journalism.

Brochure: http://infolab.usc.edu/projects/geodec/GeoDecBrochure.pdf
Web site: http://infolab.usc.edu/projects/geodec/index.jsp

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