Tagger – Final Blog Post

As part of the UK vision for supporting open discovery principles in relation to education materials, JISC has sponsored a number of projects to assist in discovering and enriching existing resources.Tagger (variously referred to previously as GTR or geotagger), was one strand of the JISC funded umbrella DiscoverEDINA project. For the two other strands to this work see here.

The primary purpose of Tagger is to assist in enriching and exposing ‘hidden’ metadata within resources – primarily images and multimedia files. Images for example embed a lot of descriptive and technical metadata within the file itself and very often it is not obvious that the main focus of interest – the image, is carrying a ‘secret’ payload of information some of which may be potentially compromising. For example, the recent embarrassment suffered by Dell after a family member uploaded images to social media sites with embedded location information, thus frustrating the efforts of a multi-million pound security operation. Or take the case of the US military when an innocently uploaded photograph of a new assignment of Apache helicopters led to their destruction when insurgents used the location information embedded in the image to precisely locate and destroy the helicopters.

There are many other instances of people being innocently or naively caught out by these ‘hidden’ signposts in resources that they distribute or curate. Tagger helps by providing tools to expose those hidden features and makes it easy to review, edit and manage the intrinsic metadata routinely bundled in resources. It has concentrated on, but not been limited to, geotags.

Tagger has delivered three main things:

  • A basic web service API based around ExifTool, suitable for 3rd party use to geo-tag/geo-code image, audio, and video metadata.
  • A demo web site enabling user upload, metadata parsing (from resource) and metadata enrichment (map based geo-tagging/geo-coding);
  • An Open Metadata corpus of geo-tagged/geo-coded enriched records with a REST based query interface. Currently, this corpus consists of approximately a quarter of a million creative commons licensed geotagged images mainly bootstrapped from Geograph.

Tagger supports the open discovery metadata principles and has made extensive use of open licensing models.

Along the way we started thinking about specific use cases. The ‘anonymise my location’ seemed an obvious case and Tagger’s API and website reflect that thinking. Additionally, in talking to colleagues involved in field trips it was clear that there was potential in providing integrated tooling and we experimented with Dropbox integration.

Taking this further and building on EDINA’s more general mobile development work, we then started to think about how Tagger could be used to assist and enrich in-field data capture use cases and post-trip reflective learning. We continue to explore this beyond the project funding as the enrichment facilities Tagger provides allows for flexible integration into 3rd party services and projects.

Of course, Tagger will never be a complete panacea for all the ills of metadata nor should it aim to be. However by building on best-of-breed opensource tools (Exiftool) Tagger, or more accurately the Tagger API, provides a facility for other service providers and projects to make use of to enable better manipulation and management of those ‘hidden’ metadata.

Therein lies the rub – the perennial  question of embedding and take up.

That’s are next challenge.

Multimedia tagger

After a little hiatus caused by the vacation season we are happy to announce a few updates:

  1. we have a little demo site that allows users to upload their images and to expose/view/edit the embedded metadata. You can update any writeable metadata tags back into he image or export is as a sidecar XMP file. The website also exposes previously uploaded images and these can be browsed on the map by right clicking and choosing ‘Nearby Images’.  We’ve also been experimenting with Dropbox integration allowing users to save their images into their own Dropbox accounts. This is still rough around the edges but flags up the direction of travel. As always, we are happy to receive feedback..
  2. the website is ultimately powered by a backend web service. The API for that is now at version 1 and includes the new Dropbox methods.

Our primary goal with 1. above has been to showcase the middleware API of 2. show its not intended to be a GeoFlickr competitor, rather an illustration of what you can do using the API. Our Dropbox thinking has been influenced by talking to people in the community who run field work courses where often students need to take photographs of things in the field and then have access to them at  a later stage for annotation or reflective study.

One last change of note. The name. We have now settled for the more generic name ‘Tagger’. Its taken a while (the full project!!) but I think we are all mostly happy with the choice – its not too explicitly ‘geo’ and yet it remains descriptive of capabilities.

Posted in Geo


Flickr have fairly recently introduced what they call ‘geofences’ which allow users to set privacy options on location information for selected images. Ostensibly this looks like a case of ‘job done’ but on closer investigation it actually reinforces our previous post about having  an explicit purge/delete capability – a sort of ‘un-geotag’.

This article provides a good overview of why this might be needed. Alternatively, if you actually want to spy on friends and colleagues take a look at this Creepy little app…


Posted in Geo

The perils of geotagging and why we have a Purge Use Case

One of the use cases we have come up for GeoTaggingResources (GTR) is for a facility to purge or delete intrinsic geospatial metadata embedded within (typically) an image.

Why, you might ask, given the pains that people go to to geotag images in  the first place, would I want to get rid of that information?

Well, this article and this piece clearly highlight the perils of indiscriminate and ‘silent geotagging’…


Rob Me

Rob Me




Posted in Geo

API draft

We now have a first draft on the API and are keen to have feedback on its utility.

We also have a constantly evolving demonstrator illustrating metadata parsing, editing and enrichment. We know we have stuff to do and coming shortly will be access to an open corpus of geo imagery metadata..


Posted in Geo

G&T, GeoT,geotaggart

One of our first dilemmas with this project was what to call it!

The basic premise behind the work itself is quite simple – wrap existing open source software for reading, writing, and manipulating image, audio, and video metadata, into a web service. This will give us the facility to deliver:

  • A basic web service based around ExifTool, suitable for 3rd party use to geo-tag/geocode image, audio, and video metadata
  • A web client enabling user upload, metadata parsing (from resource) and metadata enrichment (map based geo-tagging/geo-coding)
  • An Open metadata corpus of geo-tagged/geo-coded enriched records with a REST based query interface

Yet, having the simple idea and knowing what to call it has proved more contentious. We started with ‘geotaggart’ – being in Scotland and needing a working title, this sprung to mind (if its not obvious why then maybe this will help. FWIW I’m not actually a fan!). Once funded we felt that the working title was maybe too tongue-in-cheek and so we came up with ‘GeoT – a rather weak pun on G&T because we all felt we could do with a drink. For want of anything better we are running with that but if the virtual readership has a better suggestion let us know!!

In the fullness of time I’m sure something more agreeable can be arrived at but for now, whilst we are still evolving, we’ll stick with GeoT as a moniker..


Posted in Geo

Project Plan – Aims, Objectives and Final Output(s) of the project

The context to this proposal is that set by JISC Grant Funding Call 13/11 – Digital
Infrastructure: Information and Library Infrastructure – Resource Discovery Programme: Call for Projects. Whilst not an explicit response to that call, JISC has requested directly commissioned work that is sympathetic to and conditioned by the terms and ambitions of this Funding call which is enshrined in this proposal.

EDINA are cognisant of the broader ambition that JISC seeks to realise – that of broadly
liberal, unfettered, any-time, any-place access to resources. In particular, the focus is on ‘discovery and use’ of resources (broadly defined), in more effective support of the student and researcher experience as mediated through the JISC Digital Infrastructure.

EDINA, as a JISC designated National Data Centre, has significant existing operating
capacity and experience in delivering key aspects of the Digital Infrastructure, including
shared services (UKAMF, SUNCAT, Digimap, UK RepositoryNet+) which provide cost-effective delivery of national services to a broad UK HE/FE constituency.

Our proposal, which utilises a range of extant services and expertise at EDINA, is geared to ensure that the outcomes and deliverables assist in reducing institutional level duplication of effort and help institutions be more effective in their support of the student and researcher experience.

To achieve this we suggest two broad areas of activity:

  1. Resource metadata enrichment and aggregation;
  2. Enhancements to existing aggregations;

These activity areas will be realised by:

  • development of a generic multimedia geo-coding & geo-tagging web service that can re-profile and enrich resource embedded metadata and make it more discoverable
  • development of a framework to support user contributions to service metadata making content more discoverable through enriching metadata
  • further development of work undertaken in Phase 1 to enhance the SUNCAT aggregation.

Each of the activities will be in line with the Discovery Open Metadata and Technical
Principles, and will be contributing towards realising the Resource Discovery Taskforce vision through improving the resource discovery infrastructure and reuse of metadata.