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Geospatial intelligence has come of age

Mar. 24, 2014 - 03:45AM   |  
By AJ CLARK   |   Comments
AJ Clark is the president of Thermopylae Sciences and Technology.
AJ Clark is the president of Thermopylae Sciences and Technology. ()
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The group of federal government agencies and a broader than ever group of stakeholders who will be attending the GEOINT 2013 Symposium next month do so with vigor and a focus on the value of integrated intelligence in geospatial technology.

We are entering a new age of geospatial intelligence in which collaboration between government and commercial entities will mean success for all and cost efficiencies will bring disparate groups together. The symposium is an opportunity for the geospatial and intelligence communities to get together as a group to see the latest advancements, talk about leading technologies, share learned best practices and compare notes on where we think the industry is going. The goal, though, should be figuring out where we can collaborate to create more efficiencies while also improving overall mission capabilities.

It's those collaborations that will be more important than ever.

One great example of a collaborative effort already underway is National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's Map of the World initiative, which is likely to be a popular topic at GEOINT. That effort is designed to provide a foundation map platform for many different kinds of geospatial information that can be accessed by a wide group of defense and intelligence agencies. It allows everyone to leverage a common map platform, adding in their own data and parameters without having to start from scratch every time. Going forward, more and better analytics will be added to Map of the World, with the end result helping all agencies make better planning and business decisions.

These collaborations result in lower costs because of shared resources, better decision-making because of aggregated information and more efficient workplaces. With a single integrated map platform, people don't have to waste time chasing down critical geospatial content from 10 different maps.

Five years ago, GEOINT initially focused on the more traditional GIS world of satellite imagery and ISR systems, but now we have a broad community of companies and agencies that have a real stake in this growing space.

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Some of the highlights at GEOINT this year that speak to that evolution of our industry include:

The keynote address by GEN Michael T. Flynn, the U.S. Army, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. Flynn is a longtime guest and speaker at GEOINT, and the Defense Intelligence Agency has long had a need to leverage mapping and imagery capabilities. But now – and Thermopylae has been working with DIA over the past year on this – there is renewed focus on taking advantage of geotemporal intelligence integration. The plethora of data we have at our fingertips today – often referred to as "big data" in the commercial business world – can allow an organization like the DIA to add a never before possible depth to its mission of gathering intelligence to develop defense strategies.

Flynn will likely address in part of his keynote the DoDIIS cloud migration and the DoDIIS app engine. TST is involved with that initiative through our engineering expertise with Google products and its use of our iSpatial software. Flynn's keynote should provide a compelling look at how DIA is pulling together several sources for its purposes, using advances in commercial technology on top of common mapping platforms and the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise computing capabilities that comes from other agencies.

GEN Lloyd Austin, the commander of Central Command; ADM Bill McRaven, the commander of Special Operations Command; and Gen. John Kelley, the commander of Southern Command, are scheduled to attend the conference this year. Their involvement symbolizes a wider intelligence community endorsement, need and interest in integrated intelligence in a spatial geotemporal environment. SOUTHCOM has embraced all elements of geospatial technology for many years, and their particular mission leads them to focus on unlocking all of the data they can for their operations, planning and integrated intelligence. This multilayered information is a growing and vital part of gaining efficiencies within their organization.

Two brand new industry participants are well-known technologists Robert Scoble, a former tech evangelist at Microsoft, and Shel Israel, a noted social media pundit. They are the co-authors of “Age of Context” and will present a keynote based on how predictive tools have the potential to change businesses. Just the presence of two well-regarded tech and social media digerati signals interest in not only embracing new and emerging technology, but also the desire on both sides to work with the commercial world.

At Thermopylae we have maintained for years that the best path forward is collaboration between federal defense, intelligence community and commercial companies. I'm looking forward to GEOINT this year to see and hear the many ways this new collaborative thinking is reinvigorating our industry and pointing us to an exceptional future.

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