The project „GeoCrow“ addresses the current difficulties to gather highly accurate and up-to-date information for military and humanitarian purposes on selected areas of operations. In addition, visualization of the information requires an overlay of topographical and attributive information, in order to provide soldiers information on the topography and the security level in the region. Contemporary Virtual Globes, like Google Earth, Google Earth, Bing Maps, NASA World Wind, provide ample functionalities to virtually discover the topography of the Earth or selected geographical regions. Nevertheless, currently it is hardly possible to integrate mission relevant information from the World Wide Web or even social medial in Virtual Globes or other online maps.
This digital reconnaissance is highly relevant for the Austrian Ministry for Defense, as a high number of military missions take place in foreign regions. For such mission it is still difficult to collect local, up-to-date information, such as local natural hazards (avalanches, floodings), social unrest, and aggression against the local population.
By crawling the World Wide Web it is possible to collect relevant information/data on the operation area. A semantic enrichment of those data, amended by categorizing, and georeferencing, opens up the possibilities to make use of structured and georeferenced information for the operation. The results of GeoCrow are integrated in a demonstrator implementation that is capable of visualizing operation relevant data with the help of 3D maps embedded in a Virtual Reality environment. The development of Virtual Reality algorithms concerning movement and visualization are research foci here in order to generate a realistic representation of the operations area. Hence, soldiers can virtually explore operations area with the help of the Virtual Reality equipment – and have topographical as well as accurate, up-to-date information at hand.
The methodological results of GeoCrow are tested and evaluated based on two scenarios. Scenario#1 deals with humanitarian relief in the area of Iran, whereas scenario#2 deals with an initial reconnaissance mission for a humanitarian operation in the areas of N’Djamena and Abéché (Chad, Africa).