Go program finds photos with nearby GPS coordinates

In the Hood

© Lead Image © Tatiana Venkova, 123RF.com

© Lead Image © Tatiana Venkova, 123RF.com

Article from Issue 225/2019

Every photo you take with your mobile phone stores the GPS location in the Exif data. A Go program was let loose on Mike Schilli's photo collection to locate shots taken within an area around a reference image.

Just recently, my favorite restaurant in San Francisco, Chow, shut down unexpectedly. On top of the traumatic experience of having to find a new eatery, I was overcome by the desire to find old photos of the place from the good old days on my mobile phone. But how? I sure didn't tag them, but who does, anyway? Having said that, every cell phone photo contains GPS information, and the phone's photo app can group the photos as dots on a map.

Of course, over the years, I had outsourced the photos to other media. Not to worry, my new favorite programming language, Go, comes with image processing routines, prompting me to browse my photo collection for photos taken in or near the restaurant.


The Unix exiftool tool finds the metadata of a JPG file in a flash, leaving social media users wondering what juicy bites of data they are giving to Facebook and company when they post them. In addition to the date and time, the altitude, and the direction of the camera, there are also GPS coordinates that record the exact location on the earth's surface where the picture was taken (Figure 1). Online guru Kevin Mitnick even reports that the authorities once tracked down a Bolivian drug lord, because he had published a vacation photo that still contained the metadata of his secret whereabouts [1].


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