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Bellingcat's Online Investigation Toolkit

Bellingcat’s freely available online open source investigation toolkit - data sources, social media, visualization and many more

journalism, data, tools, fact-checking, research

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Bellingcat’s Online Investigation Toolkit


Welcome to Bellingcat’s freely available online open source investigation toolkit. You can follow our work on via our website, Twitter and Facebook. (We also provide three to five day open source investigation workshops.) This is version 5.1 (March 9, 2020). The list includes satellite and mapping services, tools for verifying photos and videos, websites to archive web pages, and much more. The list is long, and may seem daunting. There are guides at the end of the document, highlighting the methods and use of these tools in further detail. We also provide tailored digital forensics workshops. Feel free to suggest tools via email ([email protected]) or Twitter (@trbrtc). To view an outline of the document, click “View” and then “Show document outline”. There’s also one below. The “OSINT Landscape” — a condensed version of the online investigation toolkit below — can be download in high resolution here.



Content



1. Maps, Satellites & Streetview


2. Location Based Searches


3. Image & Video Verification


4. Social Media


5. Transportation


6. Date & Time



7. WhoIs, IPs & Website Analysis


8. People & Phone Numbers


9. Archiving & Downloading


10. Company Registries


11. Data Visualization


12. Online Security & Privacy


13. Finding Experts


14. Miscellaneous


15. Guides & Handbooks






1 — Maps, Satellites & Streetview

Name

Description

Pros

Cons

Link

Check out this handy flow chart for finding and acquiring satellite imagery.

Airbus Geostore

Platform to get a preview of their imagery and order images.



intelligence-airbusds.com/geostore

Baidu Maps

Baidu’s mapping service offering satellite imagery, street maps, and streetview (“Panorama” - zh:百度全景).



map.baidu.com

Bing Maps

Bing’s mapping service offering satellite imagery and street maps.

More recent and higher resolution imagery than Google, e.g. in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Difficult to check the date of the imagery.

bing.com/maps

converting coordinates

Convert geographic coordinates between different notation styles.



synnatschke.de/geo-tools/coordinate-converter.php



UTM grid zones dmap.co.uk/utmworld.htm

Copernicus

The site for the European Space Agency and for images from Copernicus’ six Sentinel satellites.

Better resolution than Landsat. See explanation from the website GISGeography on how to download free images.


scihub.copernicus.eu

Descartes Labs

A commercial service that collects data daily from public and commercial imagery providers.

Will help journalists. “We do not charge for these requests, only ask that they are credited.” (via GIJN)


descarteslabs.com

DigitalGlobe

Satellite imagery vendor.

Preview available via the catalogue, search tool very easy to use.

$

discover.digitalglobe.com

DualMaps

Combines Google’s road maps, aerial view, and street view in one embeddable tool.



data.mashedworld.com/dualmaps/map.htm

EarthExplorer

From the US Geological Service. Provides mainly US images. Gives access to Landsat satellite data as well as NASA’s Land Data Products and Services. The USGS Global Visualization Viewer (GloVis) provides remote sensing data. The USGS archive contains a complete and well-maintained collection of NASA Landsat data.



earthexplorer.usgs.gov

EOS Landviewer


EOS Landviewer provides free services for up to 10 images. More images and analysis are available to journalists at a discount. Contact: Artem Seredyuk [email protected] EOS is in the process of developing a service provisionally called EOS Media that will be providing free images and analysis of major natural disasters.


eos.com/landviewer

ESA Earth Online

Consolidates European Space Agency’s earth observation data on topics such as temperature, agriculture, and ice sheets.



earth.esa.int/web/guest/eoli

ESA SNAP

ESA SNAP is a free remote sensing program created by the European Space Agency, it lets you perform various enhancements and manipulations to remotely sensed data.



step.esa.int/main/toolboxes/snap

find2places

Allows querying Google Maps API for two specific places in precise distance from each other within given radius. Useful for geolocating photos and videos.


It’s a script, no user-friendly interface.

github.com/musafir-py/find2places

Geograph

Georeferenced images.



geograph.org

GeoNames

Database of location names.

A wide variety of different spellings in various languages. Draws upon many sources, including NGA’s Geonames.


geonames.org

GeoVisual Search

Search engine that lets users visually query images for similar geographic features. The platform from Descartes Labs is built on satellite imagery from Landsat, the National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP), and PlanetScope. Description of how to use it.



search.descarteslabs.com/?layer=naip_v2_rgb_2014-2015#lat=39.2322531&lng=-100.8544921&skipTut=true&zoom=5

Google Earth Pro


Add a Bing Maps satellite imagery layer. Historical imagery.


[software] Training guides here.

Google Earth Engine

Open-access satellite imagery and analytical framework

Virtually any satellite imagery collected from NASA, NOAA, USGS, etc. is available.

Moderate and coarse resolution imagery rather than high-resolution commercial imagery; Learning curve with Javascript

earthengine.google.com/

Google Maps

Google’s mapping service offering satellite imagery, street maps, and streetview.

Many 3D modelled places in Americas, Australia, Europe, N Africa, and SE Asia. Probably the easiest-to-navigate mapping service of all.

No historical satellite imagery, but historic Streetview images available in many places.

maps.google.com

Google Photos

(formerly Panoramio)

Geotagged photos.


R.I.P. Panoramio.


HERE WeGo


More recent satellite imagery than Google in e.g. Iraq.


wego.here.com

IndustryAbout

Maps per country showing industrial plants, e.g. power, hydroelectric, nuclear, coal, oil refineries, etc.

Specifically to industrial plants.

Only mapped per country.

industryabout.com/country-territories-3

Map checking

Calculate the amount of people that are standing in the selected Google Maps area.



mapchecking.com

Mapillary

Crowdsourced street-level photos.

A useful addition to Google Streetview.

Little to no coverage in countries like Syria, Iraq, etc.

mapillary.com

Mapotic

Map making app useful for communities, easy to make categories and attributes.



mapotic.com

NASA EarthData

WorldView allows visualization of near real-time imagery from NASA.

A wide array of satellite and aerial images; broad search criteria; and other mapping and visualization tools such as FIRMS for fires. Access to more than a dozen NASA data centres and associated satellite data products. NASA Earth Observations: More than 50 datasets on atmosphere, land, ocean, energy, environment and more.


earthdata.nasa.gov

Old Maps Online

Find old maps through numerous databases all around the world.

Easy-to-use, similar browsing as the DigitalGlobe catalogue.


oldmapsonline.org

OpenStreetCam




openstreetcam.org

OpenStreetMap




openstreetmap.org

overpass-turbo




overpass-turbo.eu

QGIS

Open source GIS programme. Here’s a guide how to use it.



Has many user add-ons. A recent update(QGIS 3.0) allows for users to create 3D landscapes using LiDAR data.


qgis.org

Radiant Earth

A non-profit group that helps the global development community discover, explore and analyze satellite, drone and aerial imagery archives.

Radiant Earth is working with Code of Africa, among others. Apply to gain assistance via their website. Or contact Radiant Earth.


radiant.earth

Resource Watch

A nonprofit platform, still in beta, that provides hundreds of data sets on the state of the planet’s resources and citizens. It is sponsored by the World Resources Institute and other organizations.

Resource Watch data are free and users can download data.


resourcewatch.org

Satellites.pro

Combines different satellite services

Includes web based Apple Maps satellite view, great for seeing countries like Afghanistan.


satellites.pro

Sentinel Hub Playground

A user-friendly place for Sentinel 2/Landsat images.

Updated every 5-10 days with new imagery, dependent on cloud cover.

Ability to explore a variety of GIS variables eg NDVI or NDWO. The EO Browser facilitates time-lapse reviews.

Generally low resolution of 10m/px.

apps.sentinel-hub.com/sentinel-playgr

ound

Tencent Maps

Tencent Maps (formerly SOSO Maps) is a desktop and web mapping service application and technology provided by Chinese company Tencent, offering satellite imagery, street maps, street view (coverage) and historical view perspectives, as well as functions such as a route planner for traveling by foot, car, or with public transportation. Android and iOS versions are available.



map.qq.com

Topotijdreis.nl

Over 200 years of maps and topography from the Netherlands.



topotijdreis.nl

what3words

Entire world divided into 3m by 3m squares, and each square is given a 3 word address. For example, the what3words address for Nelson's column in trafalgar square is: cube.soccer.these.

This website is especially useful when referring to remote locations and when you are unable to write down a lengthy sentence of exact coordinates.


map.what3words.com

Wikimap

Bellingcat's Online Investigation Toolkit
Info
Tags Journalism, Data, Tools, Fact-checking, Research
Type Google Doc
Published 21/06/2020, 12:33:08

Resources

Bellingcat's Online Investigation Toolkit [bit.ly/bcattools]