The Smart Data project offers a method of capturing geospatial data, alert flags, and source information and embedding it into a live video that is streamed from a plane to a ground station. Along with partner companies Digimarc Corporation and S&K Electronics, GCS provided a demonstration, evaluation, and testing of real-time geospatial digital watermarking applied to streaming digital geospatial video from small and large Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) sensors. This system integrated unique hardware components, control station software from third parties, and proprietary software created by GCS.
Smart Data involves a technique to apply the GeoMarc® geospatial digital watermarking process at the raw data level in firmware onboard a UAV. Interacting with Autonomous Target Recognition sensors, onboard UAV telemetry, and sensor metadata channels, a GeoMarc is embedded in each frame of the video. While watching the live video feed on the control station software, users may apply a Smart Data Tag to identify frames of interest within the video and embed additional information about the location. Additional mission-critical information is contained in the GeoMarc payload to provide relevance for disconnected content, and to synchronize the video data stream with the other metadata sources broadcast to ground control stations. Once the video is received on the ground, a GeoMarc ground control station monitors the data streams and detects the Smart Data Tags embedded in the video frames. The geospatial common operational picture (GeoCOP, also known as GAIN or ISAA) immediately identifies the specific frames and synchronizes with other data, then displays alerts in a map interface on an analyst workstation or mobile device.
The Ground Control Station included controls for the UAS, live video feed, and the Esri ArcGIS GeoMarc/GAIN software that GCS created for the project which read out the geospatial data from the watermark (i.e. provide secure, undetectable validated payload data about where the drone was located when certain video frames were taken).
Phase 2 expanded the capabilities of Smart Data, creating a larger payload of data in the watermark, adding new features to the GeoCOP and video interfaces, and adding the ability to mark “detections” within the live video display. The end-user viewing the GeoCOP could flag items of interest seen in the remote video feed (a building, a road, an explosion, etc.) and this information could be passed up military intelligence channels in the secure steganography of the watermarked video image.