The need for geospatial intelligence is stronger than ever. Across domains, experts are discussing better methods for collecting, exploiting and sharing geospatial information.
Look no further than the recent GEOINT 2012 event, where General James R. Clapper, Director of U.S. National Intelligence, discussed the value of intelligence integration. He highlighted new efforts to develop a cloud-based, enterprise model for sharing data, the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise.
Similarly, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) Director Letitia A. Long discussed NGAs efforts to make its content available for everyone to use, on-demand, to help meet their mission needs. A core part of this program is the NGA GEOINT Mobile App Store, which is now up-and-running. Director Longs vision is to have the majority of the apps developed by NGAs partners.
As these intelligence leaders make clear that new innovations bring the power of GEOINT into the hands of the user are now a core focus for the defense and intelligence communities. By making GEOINT content that is discoverable, accessible and available across multiple domains, agencies are advancing the concept that GEOINT is the foundation of all intelligence efforts, community-wide.
For many in the trade, GEOINT is the common denominator that allows other intelligence disciplines to meet mission needs. Thats because, ultimately, intelligence must be spatially related to become useful. Location awareness is the driver for instant access to accurate and detailed geospatial intelligence products, such as hardcopy and digital maps, generated from multi-source data, to meet mission requirements.
No matter what happens in the halls of government around the globe with regard to agency budgets, defense and intelligence organizations, on a global scale, will always require access to the correct geospatial data to aid in protecting populations against terrorist threats and deploying military units for multi-national operations. In fact, the challenges for defense and intelligence organizations have never been greater.
General Clapper said the U.S. is facing the most demanding array of threats he has ever seenthe needs only increase as agencies take on new challenges. For instance, access to imagery and analysis capabilities provides the visual insights needed to propel civil disaster management and humanitarian efforts, which has become a core mission of the NGA.
Increasing efforts to bring GEOINT to the hands of the user coupled with more global challenges yields a need for further innovations that support the whole life cycle of geospatial information management, from sensors down to soldiers. In fact, the theme of GEOINT 2012 was Creating the Innovation Advantage, which is extremely timely as governments require the right creativity and innovations to address todays threats and in order to meet these real-time needs.
Innovation will be the driver for the new cloud and mobile efforts that General Clapper and Director Long discussed as well as many others. Innovations such as data capture and fusion in an integrated environment, on-demand geo-processing and rapid production of maps to specification are central to providing real-time intelligence to users whether they are on a desktop or mobile device.
This is where the often-used expression real-time, actionable intelligence comes to light. By advancing technologies that enable organizations to discover, exploit and sharerapidly and securelythe wealth of information contained in data from any source, agencies can make those smarter decisions that protect military personnel and nations.
There are many useful innovations now available that can advance this goal. New solutions provide tools to enable easier, more thorough use of radar data resources, for example. Defense and intelligence organizations can now transform full motion video (FMV) from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into real-time intelligence at the strategic level or in the field at the tactical level for faster decision making.
The proliferation of data from these multiple sourceswhether from UAVs, LiDAR or commercial satellitesrequires defense and intelligence agencies to grapple with the challenge of processing data in near real-time. Advances in real-time, multi-sensor fusion are helping to overcome this hurdle. By fusing data from multiple sensors into an integrated geospatial environment, organizations can achieve true multiple intelligence (Multi-INT) capabilities.
Budget challenges also require organizations to think differently about their approach to both innovation and implementation. Many seek flexible, self-service capabilities in the form of off-the-shelf software for GIS, photogrammetry, remote sensing and data management and sharing, allowing them to develop customized geospatial solutions that meet their dynamic needs with greater control and agility. Others have opted for full-service capabilities that offer a full lifecycle of outsourced geospatial services, allowing organizations to meet mission sgoals within budget and on time.
These are but a few of the ways GEOINT innovations are aiding agencies in need. Based on the caliber of speakers and their core messages and the level of innovations showcased in the exhibition hall at GEOINT 2012, the defense and intelligence community is in good hands; hands that work passionately and tirelessly to advance the tradecraft.
In spite of budgetary concerns, complicated missions at home and abroad will only increase in number. So, too, will the role that GEOINT plays. GEOINT will remain the foundation for effective operations.
As defense and intelligence organizations face an increasingly complex world, new innovations will drive new capabilities, and new capabilities will drive mission success. In uncertain times, with threats increasing and budget decreasing, GEOINT will make their job a little easier. In the high stakes world of national security, its no small thing to say: GEOINT is there to help.
About the author
Derek Ireson currently holds the position of Vice President, Defense & Intelligence Portfolio in the Security, Government and Infrastructure (SG&I) Division of Intergraph Corporation. As one of the five Product Centre Portfolio Groups within SG&I (the others being Public Safety, Security, Utilities & Communications and Geospatial Solutions), the D&I Portfolio Group is responsible for designing and developing high quality specialized Geospatial software solutions for the global Defense and Intelligence market.