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Are We Seeing War Differently Because Of Satellite Imagery?

Wales resident Kyle Glenn is a project manager and has a unique hobby. They monitor the movement of Russian troops. Kyle Glenn is one of the founders of Conflict News, a Twitter account. This account has 400,000 followers where photos and videos from various sources related to the Ukraine war are shared.

Kyle Glenn and others who call themselves the Open Source Intelligence Community are watching the gathering of Russian forces on the Ukrainian border.

They have purchased the online service Skywatch and broadcast the images from the Conflict News account. Skywatch was the first satellite service to show images of Russian troops gathering on the Ukrainian border.

“We’ve been watching since there was nothing, then there was a gathering of troops, then the troops disappeared and the invasion of Ukraine began,” he said.

“It’s my hobby, volunteering, whatever you want to say,” says Kyle Glenn.

Much of the coverage of the Ukraine war is based on social media content. It also includes images from satellites ranging from the movement of troops to the destruction of cities.

In recent days, satellite imagery, including scenes of Russian helicopter crashes, attacks on shopping malls and the destruction of residential areas in Mariupol, and a fire in a ship in the Black Sea, has attracted a lot of attention.

Private companies such as Planet and Mixer, which have their own satellites, have advertised images of the war-torn region. The presence of such images means that experts sitting thousands of miles away can see the mimicry of Russian forces in Ukraine and their successes and failures.

Kyle Glenn says that even before that, images of wars were obtained from satellites and such images were seen during the war in Syria, but there is no precedent for what is now available.

So what has changed? Governments and intelligence agencies collect classified images and information, while commercial companies are allowed to sell their images. And now this content is readily available on the Internet.

Many businesses and organizations now rely on satellite imagery to monitor wildfires, crops, and ships. Chris Quality of Quality Analytics says this means that the number of commercial satellites in orbit has increased, which has greatly increased data transmission. There are so many eyes in the sky now.

Ordinary people can now buy high-quality images from commercial companies for ڈالر 10 per square mile. The resolution of these images is so good that you can recognize road signs and vehicles.

Operators of these satellites can modify their programs as needed to give them a space monitoring command several times a day.

Chris Quality says that as technology advances, people’s interest in viewing satellite imagery is growing. “There has been no dramatic change in basic ability, but there has been a change in the way people are using images,” says Quality.

Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images can also be obtained from commercial satellites that are usually difficult to interpret. Satellites can retrieve SAR images from the clouds. Rows of vehicles and tanks can be seen in these black and white photos.

Kyle Glenn says such images show him and others like him knowing the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Rita Conway is an analyst at Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology. Dr. Rita says that in the wars of the last ten to fifteen years, satellite imagery is a new aspect of these wars, but its scope and reach are different. This can help prevent the spread of misinformation.

Dr. Rita Konyu says the architecture of European cities is similar to that of the Ukrainian capital. Due to its architectural familiarity, the West’s attitude toward this war is different from that in the Middle East or elsewhere.

Kyle Glenn says that followers of Conflict News and other similar social media accounts can verify satellite images using online resources. “You can show this evidence to the audience without comment so that they can form their own opinion.”

However, he acknowledges that he and others who call themselves the open-source intelligence community does not show all images and decide which images to show and which not.

Kyle Glenn sympathizes with Ukraine in this war. He says that is why he does not publish pictures of the movements of Ukrainian soldiers so that their lives are not endangered.

Private companies such as the Canadian firm MDA are sharing more sophisticated images directly with the Ukrainian military. Dr. Kanyu says that satellite images represent a unique form of events thousands of miles away.

Dr. Kanyu says that in many ways the images obtained from afar present a different picture of the catastrophe. It’s more about the whole community than the lives of a few. But the widespread publicity of such images will have some dangerous consequences.

The forces have vast resources of intelligence. But no one knows how much the images shared on Twitter and Facebook influence the decision-making of commanders on the ground.

Dr. Kanye says the dangers of sharing these photos are real. Kyle Glenn has thought about it, but he may never know if there were any casualties on the front lines because of the photos he shared.

“I wouldn’t say I’m hesitant about it, but I’m aware of the possibility and now I’ve learned to live with it.”

Hamza Ahmed
Hamza Ahmed
Hamza Ahmed is graduated from the NED faculty of Software Engineering Karachi. This website is owned and operated by Hamza Ahmed


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