Anybody that's used OSINT to try and geolocate a photo already knows the value of google maps. You may not get an entirely up to date photo of an area, but the ability drop the 'yellow street view dude' onto most places on the map and explore can do amazing things for reconnaissance.
I've noticed in South Carolina a lot of the street view photos will be dated from 2012-2014. The Google car can't be everywhere updating all the time and there are a lot of rural areas in this state, so that is to be expected. However, when I was doing research for a talk on real time OSINT I noticed there was a way to get a more updated aspect of the maps.
Real Time Example
This morning my Tweetdeck filter caught some activity in Aiken county, SC based on the keyword 'manhunt' I had used on a previous filter.
A Georgia reporter was tweeting about a search for a suspect that was posted less than 30 minutes from when I read it. The tweet identifies Aiken South Carolina as the general region of the photo and the photo cuts off a street sign "...int Drive" which is half visible. If I point google maps to Aiken South Carolina and type in some possible matches to complete the street sign (Pint, Mint, Lint), Flint Drive is auto completed.
If you read enough news articles regarding crime stories you see the addresses frequently reported in block format. For example a shooting was reported near the 1500 block of Elm street. At the time of this tweet there was no block address given, but since I've determined Flint Drive as a likely candidate for the location of the event, we can try something.
It is possible to 'walk' the entirety of Flint Drive with street view and look for the intersection shown in the twitter photo, but I've found that asking google for directions through the area of interest usually works a little faster.
With heavy police presence as shown on the twitter photo, traffic will likely be an issue wherever the picture was taken. Zooming in and out of the area I pick some landmarks around the area of interest and ask for directions. Next, I drag the blue path around until we see some traffic congestion in the area.
Drop 'Little street view dude' into the red traffic area for a look.
The photo in street view is 5 years old dated May 2012.
Even with a 5 year difference between today's Twitter photo and Google maps I can validate a few items.
The street sign(yellow), a unique shaped sign post(red), and a broken branch formation in the tree(blue) are all visible in both photos. So next time something is happening in real time see if the directions method can help you quickly zero in on a location.
If you have any techniques to share or comments please drop me a line on Twitter @baywolf88