05 Mar 2021

WebVMT: Making Geotagged Video More Accessible

Rob Smith, AwayTeam looks at standardisation of location-aware video devices as part of techUK's #GeospatialFuture campaign week


Video Nation

Video cameras are everywhere. The sustained popularity of smartphones has produced low-cost electronic cameras and global navigation satellite system (GNSS) receivers and spawned a generation of location-aware video devices.

Consumer products offer sharp images, accurate geolocation and good reliability that provide affordable off-the-shelf solutions to private and commercial users alike. Dashcams record vehicles to ensure that drivers are safe, body-worn cameras protect workers in hazardous environments, drones reveal airborne insights into the local area and smartphones crowdsource footage around the world.

Geotagged video is readily available but unlocking its potential is a thorny issue. In markets dominated by a profusion of proprietary formats, many users struggle to access their own data - let alone share it with others.

Share Where

Standardisation has already solved the problem of sharing video online, enabling movies to be played in modern web browsers and broadcast to a worldwide audience. A similar approach is now in development for video geotags with the advent of Web Video Map Tracks (WebVMT) - an open format designed to synchronise location with video for the web - which is based on W3C's subtitle format (Web Video Text Tracks) and focusses instead on geospatial metadata.

WebVMT integrates seamlessly with existing video metadata formats such as the Motion Imagery Standards Board (MISB) and GPMF, and bridges the gap to make video location data accessible to web browser applications and search engines via HTML and JavaScript APIs. Separating metadata from audio-visual content reduces access bandwidth to allow relevant media to be identified more rapidly, enables strict access control using security permissions and retains evidence integrity by preserving source data unchanged. Improved security and access speed make data more valuable to business and the public, while preserving evidence is particularly important to the police and insurance industry. More details can be found at the WebVMT website including a non-technical overview, development blog and tech demos.

Recent work in the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Testbed-16 programme successfully demonstrated ways in which location data can be extracted from MISB video to track moving objects with an annotated digital map in a web browser. Results showcased the power of this geospatial technology in the Engineering Report and two-minute YouTube presentation, and sponsorship is now being sought for follow-on work to address wild fire response and counter poaching use cases in Testbed-17.

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Join Us

Engaging with product manufacturers, developers and users plays an important role in the W3C incubation process for formats like WebVMT. Implementers and industry partners are encouraged to participate in the WebVMT W3C Community Group which is free to join and provides a focus for online support to encourage uptake, gather invaluable feedback and accelerate the standardisation process. Your experience could make a difference

Rob Smith is an Invited Expert in the W3C Spatial Data on the Web Interest Group leading the development of WebVMT

You can read more insights from techUK's #GeospatialFuture campaign here!

Laura Foster

Laura Foster

Head of Technology and Innovation, techUK

Laura is techUK’s Head of Programme for Technology and Innovation.

She supports the application and expansion of emerging technologies, including Quantum Computing, High-Performance Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies, across the UK. As part of this, she works alongside techUK members and UK Government to champion long-term and sustainable innovation policy that will ensure the UK is a pioneer in science and technology

Before joining techUK, Laura worked internationally as a conference researcher and producer covering enterprise adoption of emerging technologies. This included being part of the strategic team at London Tech Week.

Laura has a degree in History (BA Hons) from Durham University, focussing on regional social history. Outside of work she loves reading, travelling and supporting rugby team St. Helens, where she is from.

[email protected]

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