Short version: We think the existing network of outdoor webcams is an important source of imagery for environmental monitoring.
Long version: Many thousands of outdoor cameras are currently connected to the Internet-they are placed by governments, companies, conservation societies, national parks, universities, and private citizens. Individually, these cameras observe scenes in order to show the current traffic and weather conditions, to advertise the beauty of a particular beach or mountain, or to give a view of animal or plant life at a particular location. Collectively, however, this set of cameras has an untapped potential to monitor global trends-changes in weather, snow-cover, vegetation, and traffic density are all observable in some of these cameras, and together they give a relatively dense sampling over the US, Europe and parts of Asia. The image above shows locations of the more than 16000 webcams we have discovered that are currently giving live images.
This is long-term project that involves a broad range of collaborations with researchers in fields ranging from glaciology to phenology. If you are interested in exploring the use of this imaging resource, or any of the methods we have developed in the process, please feel free to contact me.
webcam streams into Google Earth and Google Maps.
Project leaders (this project is an active collaboration led by my thesis advisor, Robert Pless, and me):
Early work on this project was supported under Robert Pless' NSF CAREER award: NSF IIS 0546383: CAREER: Passive Vision, What Can Be Learned by a Stationary Observer. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.