Raytheon’s Predictive People Search “RIOT”

The security corporation Raytheon has developed a proprietary people tracker and finder that can locate a person’s real-world footprint and predict likely locations for any given time using GPS header data from digital photos and social networking data.

RIOT, which stands for Rapid Information Overlay Technology, mines data from social networks like Facebook and Twitter as well as popular checkin sites like Gowalla and Foursquare along with geo tagging data from online digital photos to compile a personal map of a person’s travels and hangouts as well as a graph of their social links to other people.

Watch the video below as a Raytheon employee demonstrates the tracking and mapping features of the RIOT search engine.

Raytheon has shared RIOT with the United States government to help with the creation of a national security system that can mine and organize trillions of pieces of online information.

It is amazing how all the personal information that is being shared by people on the internet can be used to find or even predict their locations in real time.

RIOT can process various pieces of personal information about someone and mine it to create insights about them. Raytheon claims that RIOT can easily scale to include trillions of entities.

RIOT has been called “stalking software” by the UK Telegraph and the Guardian has described it as “Google for spies”. However, as a so-called national security tool it is not all that amazing.

There are already publicly available tools online that will read exif geo data from a digital photo and plot the location on Google maps along with the date the photo was taken. Furthermore, sites like Spokeo and other public people search engines already pull in vast amounts of personal data from social networking sites and make it searchable to anyone online. Searches as simple as Google images allow you to upload or drag-and-drop a picture of a person, place or thing from your computer to find out where on the internet the photo has been posted or shared.

When people share personal data online, they often incorrectly assume that their audience is only their friends, family or colleagues, but it can literally be the entire world or at least a government defense contractor like Raytheon.

For more information on Raytheon, read this extensive Wikipedia post on the company.