GCS developed a suite of tools for the ESRI ArcGIS® product family that leveraged the power of digital watermarking for geospatial imagery.
The toolset called GeoMarc embedded an invisible mark into the pixels of raster datasets. Imperceptible to the human eye, GeoMarc was embedded throughout the image and would survive most image processing operations including cropping, rotating, scaling, and compression. By locking information directly into the pixels, extra files or folders do not need to be sent along with the image. Instead, the image carried its own identity with it so that applications could easily verify the image ownership and access relevant linked information. In addition, because the GeoMarc was not dependent on file formats or header data, it did not matter if the filename or file format is changed from the original.
GeoMarc enabled organizations to manage and share geospatial intelligence and greatly enhance user workflows. Some GeoMarc features included:
When an image is marked with the GeoMarc Export tool and then made available for sale, or posted on a Web site, or printed, the GeoMarc exists in the pixels of these derivative products. If someone were illegally taking a portion of the image and posting it on their Web site, or distributing it in print, the true owner need only take the found image and open it with the DataLink tool. The DataLink tool cross-references the owner ID with the GCS owner database and provides proof of ownership for the image.
Tracking and Leak Detection
Unlike traditional image headers or filenames, the GeoMarc payload cannot be removed from the image pixels even if the image is printed or its format is changed. This means that the GeoMarc stays with the image throughout its life and can always be used to identify and track the image. Since the GeoMarc payload defines a unique identifier, this ID can be tied to the identity of the user who created the image, or to whom the image was distributed. If a GeoMarc image is discovered in an inappropriate use, the responsible user can be located for further investigation.
Automated Data Distribution and Updates
With its pull architecture, GeoMarc automatically allows consumers to stay up to date with the latest information and services associated with their geospatial imagery. For example, if new feature layers are created for an image (buildings, streams, roads, etc.), the enterprise needs only keep the GeoMarc registry up to date, and all users can access and pull this data via their DataLink tool. Imagery providers can easily register their services that are instantly available to their users.
GeoMarc users can create an entire briefing and distribute it as a single image. This capability provides both simplicity and security in the distribution of critical or sensitive information. By linking annotations, overlays, and supporting documentation to a GeoMarc, the entire briefing can be delivered through the image, either digitally or in print. Once received, the DataLink client can reconstruct the briefing by reading the GeoMarc and pulling the linked data from public and private data stores. This workflow allows for easy distribution of materials without exposing important data to interception. To the unauthorized observer, the image does not appear to contain any additional data. The original briefing is only available to authorized users with a GeoMarc Reader accessing the required data stores and registries.