Connect With UsHow To Find Someone 's Location By how to find the location of an unknown number Their Phone Numbr On Your ..

Steps10 May 2013 .. Within most digital pictures, cameras store meta data called EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format) within the header of the file. This data can ..8 Jul 2010 .. Airtel Friend Locator is a cool, how to find the location of an unknown number first of its kind, location based service which lets .. Get clicky and busy make away before friends take upon you.

Using a Photo's Meta Data To Find a Location

So-called EXIF data gives investigators a wealth of information.

May 10, 2013  |  by Graham Kuzia

Photo via Flickr.
We've all watched the TV cop shows where the detectives call some geeky guy back at the office to trace every movement of their suspect. Typically, the analyst obtains a picture off his social media profile and magically finds his exact GIS (geographic information system) coordinates, leading the detectives straight to his front door. You probably sat back and laughed, explaining to your family that it's not that easy.

Well, it is that easy. Here's how to do it.

Within most digital pictures, cameras store meta data called EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format) within the header of the file. This data tells you about the size of the photo and resolution. It can also give you major clues about the origin of the photo. Here are some things that EXIF data can include:

  • Type of camera used to take the photo
  • If a flash was used
  • Shutter speed
  • Date and time the photo was taken
  • GIS coordinates of where the photo was taken

Keep in mind that not all digital pictures have EXIF data. Websites such as Facebook erase EXIF data, when you upload the image to their website. Other social media sites and web-hosting sites still allow EXIF data to be saved in their images.

This is especially valuable for officers who seize a cell phone with GIS capabilities (for navigation). Most phones automatically save GIS data within pictures at the time they're taken. This can also be used in child exploitation cases to identify what type of camera you may be looking for when conducting a search warrant on your offender's residence.

You don't have to be a computer quiz to obtain this valuable information. Just follow these simple steps.

  1. Save the image to your computer or get the website where it's hosted.
  2. Use an EXIF viewer such as this one  to see the data.
  3. Upload the photo or copy the URL into the appropriate box.

If your EXIF viewer gives you GIS coordinates, you can copy and paste them into Google Maps or Google Earth to see the exact location where the photo was taken. It's generally accurate to within a few feet.

Graham Kuzia is a reserve Gaston County (N.C.) Police officer and digital forensics program developer at the  American Academy of Applied Forensics . He was featured in a 2010  "Shots Fired"  article.

Tags: Computer Forensics Smartphones Evidence Collection Mapping/GIS Facebook

Recommended Stories

New Challenges in Cyber Forensics   Forensics Equipment   Seek Thermal: Heat Vision

Comments (3)

Displaying 1 - 3 of 3

AimFire @ 5/30/2013 6:22 AM

The hotlink to THIS ONE (EXIF viewer) came up as a malicious website by my virusblocker, fyi

Peter Howitz @ 5/18/2015 3:18 PM

If you are looking for GPS information instead of all EXIF data I would recommend http://www.pic2map.com which is an online photo location viewer.

FARHAN @ 4/23/2017 3:52 AM

This is especially valuable for officers who seize a cell phone with GIS capabilities (for navigation). Most phones automatically save GIS data within pictures at the time they're taken. This can also be used in child exploitation cases to identify what type of camera you may be looking for when conducting a search warrant on your offender's residence.

Loading...

Join the Discussion

Name * E-Mail * Message * Leave this field empty Post a comment POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent Blog Posts

How Protesters and Politicians Helped Increase Baltimore's Violent Crime
De-policing is an outcome — it is the direct result of protesters, politicians, and the...
How Can Law Enforcement Mitigate the Opioid Crisis in America?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than 115 people die by...
Topics
Gangs SWAT Weapons Careers & Training Patrol Technology Vehicles Women in Law Enforcement
Quick Links
Video Blogs News Products Photo Galleries Jobs Archives Suppliers Cop Slang Police How-To Training Calendar Online Store Webinars Podcasts RSS Feeds
Services
Subscriber Services Advertise About Us Contact Us Privacy Policy Site Map Suppliers Directory Store
Other Related Sites
Government Fleet Automotive Fleet In partnership with:

How To Trace Address/Name/Location Of UnKnown Number | Track Phone Numbers - Find Unknown Numbers PHONE TRACKER