Logo: University of Southern California

The Quest for Information

MediaQ, short for MediaQuest, makes searching for video content easier in the Internet age.
By: Anna-Catherine Brigida
May 20, 2013 —

In the digital age, many take for granted that information is accessible at any moment in time. However, what if you just can’t find what you are looking for?

For example, you may need footage of a protest at City Hall or the damage after an earthquake. No matter how many key words you search, the video is nowhere to be found.

This is a problem news organizations and other users often face as they search for specific video content for certain events, including protests and natural disasters. Twenty percent of the video content on the Internet is “unsearchable” without geospatial information, researchers say.

MediaQ, a new USC-created online platform for user-generated video content, hopes to help journalists, documentarians, and others by providing a more effective way to categorize and search for videos. In this age of citizen journalism, MediaQ can identify when and where videos were taken. Not only does this make searches easier, it allows journalists to get the exact footage from the exact time, place, and angles that they want. MediaQ collects such information by using geospatial technology on smart phones.

Seon Ho Kim and the MediaQ team presenting at the recent MEPC competition

PBS recently used this service.

Computer scientist Seon Ho Kim of USC’s Integrated Media Systems Center developed the idea for MediaQ when he saw a need for organized and authenticated video content as people produce more and more user-generated content.

“I realized that lots of videos these days, without specific information, are almost impossible to search,” Kim said.

PBS NewsHour recently teamed up with MediaQ to create an “inaug-blog” for the presidential inauguration. Fourteen student journalists and one intern tested MediaQ’s technology at the inauguration. They uploaded their videos using MediaQ in the same way they would upload any video. MediaQ made it easy for these students to upload and for viewers to search.

“What we wanted to make with the inaug-blog is to really put things in the hands of users. We want people to feel like they are there,” said Imani Cheers, director of educational resources at PBS NewsHour and managing editor of inaug-blog. “To be able to really feel like you are where what is happening, I think that’s what MediaQ brings that no one else is doing right now.”

Right now, Kim’s group is working on moving its prototype to a fully commercialized product.

MediaQ’s relevance extends beyond media outlets.

“The MediaQ concept is way broader than the MediaQ for media industry,” Kim said. “Our system can be a general portal for any user-generated videos.”