The Basics of Geolocation for OSINT#

Geolocation is the process of identifying the real-world geographic location of an object, such as a person, place, or thing. Geolocation is a powerful tool for OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) analysts, as it can provide valuable insights into the physical location of a target. In this blog post, we will introduce the basics of geolocation and how it can be used for OSINT purposes.

The rise of geolocation data#

With the advancement of computer devices, mobile communications, and social media platforms, tracing people’s geolocation details has grown popular since these technologies allow reporting someone’s current position online. Various electronic equipment now has satellite tracking sensors to detect their exact position. Almost all portable technologies are now aware of their surroundings. Additionally, the majority of programs, internet services, and social media platforms may monitor a user’s whereabouts in some way.

As you can see navigation systems are in charge of determining people’s present whereabouts. Now let’s take a look at how navigation systems function.

A quick look at navigation systems#

Most individuals are unconcerned about the foundational system that helps them to access location-based services. People input the address of the area they want to search on the map, or they utilize the built-in capability on smartphones to geotag photographs and videos, which instantly records the current location of images/videos as a meta tag. In other cases, several social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, allow users to record their present position online, known as a check-in.

To identify your current geographical position, location-aware equipment must interact with a satellite navigation system, which is capable of providing the precise details of the place on Earth.

What is GPS?

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is an American satellite navigation system created and controlled by the United States government; it is the most common navigation system on the planet and is utilized by a vast variety of systems throughout the world. GLONASS (Russian), BeiDou (China), and Galileo(European Union) are other navigation systems.

What is a geographic coordinate?

GPS must establish the precise coordinate where you are standing in order to calculate your present location.

A geographic coordinate system uses two coordinate parameters to find places on Earth:

  • latitude

  • and longitude

Having the above two values allows you to find any spot on Earth.

Now that we’ve reviewed the fundamentals, let’s take a look at what is a geospatial analysis.

What exactly is geospatial analysis?#

Geospatial analysis is the collection, exhibit, and utilization of visuals, GPS, satellite photography, and historical details that are either explicitly described in terms of geographic coordinates or implicitly described in terms of a street address, postal code, or forest stand identifier as it is applied to geographic modeling techniques.

Geospatial intelligence / Geospatial OSINT

Geospatial intelligence is the assessment and analysis of physical characteristics and geographical activity on Earth using geolocation images and information. The collecting and evaluation of publicly available geospatial data are known as geospatial OSINT.

Who utilizes Geospatial OSINT?#

Geospatial OSINT methods can be used during investigations to help locate suspects and missing individuals, as well as to examine global incidents such as pandemics and natural catastrophes. Government agencies, law enforcement agencies, and private organizations use geospatial OSINT tactics, with research undertaken by inspectors, researchers, and reporters.


You can link the majority of user online activity to geolocation data. Upon completion of this page now you have refreshed the basics of geolocation which will help you with your location-based OSINT research.

See also

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