Washington Post 
Monday, Oct 20, 2008
Real-time streaming video of Iraqi and Afghan battle areas taken from thousands of feet in the air can follow actions of people on the ground as they dig, shake hands, exchange objects and kiss each other goodbye.
The video is sent from unmanned and manned aircraft to intelligence analysts at ground stations in the United States and abroad. They watch video in real time of people getting in and out of cars, loading trunks, dropping things or picking them up. They can even see vehicles accelerate, slow down, move together or make U-turns.
“The dynamics of an urban insurgency have resulted in a rapid increase in the number of activities visible in the video field of view,” according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
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Although the exploits of the Predator, the Global Hawk and other airborne collectors of information have been widely publicized, there are few authoritative descriptions of what they can see on the ground.
But some insights into the capabilities of the Predator and other aircraft can be drawn from a DARPA paper that describes the tasks of a contractor that will develop a method of indexing and rapidly finding video from archived aerial surveillance tapes collected over past years.
“The U.S. military and intelligence communities have an ever increasing need to monitor live video feeds and search large volumes of archived video data for activities of interest due to the rapid growth in development and fielding of motion video systems,” according to the DARPA paper, which was written in March but released last month.
Last month, Kitware, a small software company with offices in New York and North Carolina, teamed up with 19 other companies and universities and won the $6.7 million first phase of the DARPA contract, which is not expected to be completed before 2011.