One of the critical skills of a good Intelligence Analyst is the ability to interrogate data and information.
Intelligence Analysts don’t need to know everything, but the best ones know how to get information when it’s needed.
So, here’s a simple Open Source Intelligence tool that’s exceptionally powerful for OSINT Geolocation.
Introducing Google Lens
Located in the google search bar, the Google Lens search function scans within images for related results on the internet.
How Does Google Lens Work?
Google’s ‘Image recognition and search’ function scans images and suggests results based on it’s index.
It’s pretty simple to use. Just drag a photo / image into the Google Search bar and the Lens feature will begin.
You can then select specific parts of the image to search.
Using Google Lens for OSINT Geolocation
Using the Random Place Generator, I took a screenshot of a road and some surrounding features to use in Google Lens.
Google Lens Geolocation Example 1: Tsirang Hwy, Bhutan
This image has large rusty rings discarded on the side of the road.
Identifiable powerlines ran over the top of the rust rings with the road appearing in a valley.
Clear mountains are observable on both sides of the road with a small hut visible on the right.
Focusing on Identifiable Features – Large Rusted Metal Rings
Using Google Lens on the whole image the location wasn’t immediately clear.
However, after focusing Google’s Search function on the large metal rings (below), a result for a hydroelectric power plant in Bhutan appeared with similar geography.
✅ Large rusted metal rings – Check
✅ Discarded on the side of the road – Check
✅Overhead power wires within the valley – Check
The article by Google Lens suggested we should be looking somewhere in Buthan.
The Google Lens results gave us an article discussing Bhutan’s massive hydroelectric power plants and gave us a location near the Basochhu Hydro powerplant in Bhutan. Tick boom! ??
With confidence, I could say the image was located along a main route connecting the two major hydroelectric power plants in the suggested article. Somewhere on the Wangdue – Tsirang Hwy, Bhutan.
Example Two: Too Easy – Google Makes Short Work of Stock Image
Example two turned out to be too easy.
I thought the photo was just a random railway somewhere…
But, as soon as I used the Google Lens feature, the image showed up as a stock image with the exact location.
Example Three – Where in the World?
This random street view was also pretty easy given Reykjavik’s most famous church, the Hallgrímskirkja is clearly visible at the end of the street. ?
Want More OSINT GEOINT?
Check out Trace Labs – Day at the Beach article for A Simple Example of Geo-Location. Or,
Six Tools To Help With Geolocation by OSINT Site NixIntel.
Both are great references I found while playing around with Google Lens for this OSINT Article.
And finally, the OSINT article wouldn’t be complete without our own GEOINT Challenge.
Challenge 1 – Where Was This Photo Taken? (Easy)
OSINT Geolocation Challenge 1 – What is the image of? And where was I when I took the photo?
Post your answers in the comments (with any supporting images).
OSINT Geolocation Challenge 2 – Name the Park, and City
OSINT Geolocation Challenge 2. Can you name the Park and City from this photo?
For extra credit can you tell when I was there?
Post your answers in the comments (with any supporting images) below.
Scientia sit potentia.