Samuel Pritt, a junior at Pritt Home School (Walkersville, Maryland), won for “Geolocation of Photographs by Horizon Matching with Digital Elevation Models.” Photographs of events, landscape and field observations for science, espionage, and law enforcement often need to be located to specific geography. Doing this manually is impractical when handling a large quantity of photographs. Samuel wanted to automate the process. He developed a method and wrote a Java script for comparing the horizon profi le in a photograph and matching it against topographic profiles from digital elevation models (DEM); digital elevation models are available free to the public from sources like the U.S. Geological Survey. He tested more than 100 photographs from the eastern and western United States that portrayed outdoor landscapes and beach scenes, views from car windows, and indoor scenes with the horizon viewed through a window. The horizons varied in length, orientation, distinctiveness, visibility, and vegetation cover. Samuel reported an 83% success rate, with a mean error of about 300 m. During his work, he learned to take into account the curvature of the Earth, atmospheric refraction and DEM errors.
The execution time depends on the computer and DEM search area. He would like to speed up his search algorithm and foresees uses for his method for law enforcement, counter terrorism, photo tourism, community remote sensing, and autonomous vehicle navigation
Walkersville student stands out in math, science and technology competition By Sherry Greenfield/Staff Writer

Samuel Pritt, a home-schooled senior from Walkersville, has been named a regional finalist in the Siemens Foundation competition in math, science and technology.

Samuel is being honored for his computer science research project on geolocation of photographs. His project could better determine where a photograph was taken using the horizon curve in the photo, which like fingerprinting, which often is distinctive enough to accurately pinpoint a location.

Samuel was scheduled to present his project Nov. 2-3, to judges at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. Winners of the regional competition will move on to the national finals Dec. 1-4, at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Scholarships totaling $500,000 will be awarded, including two top prizes of $100,000.

This year, 2,255 students throughout the country entered the Siemens competition, for a total of 1,504 projects submitted.

Samuel is one of two regional finalists from Maryland.

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