Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »
GEOINT 2017: Common Goals and Public-Private Partnership
June 7th, 2017 by Susan Smith
At GEOINT 2017 held this year in San Antonio, TX, Robert Cardillo, director, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, spoke about the role of GEOINT and how it will drive the next generation of intelligence in his keynote address, “Riding the Wave.”
Cardillo referred to General Eisenhower, who 73 years ago drafted two letters in anticipation of the next day D-Day Operation Overlord combat initiative, and the public knows of only one of them. “Operation Overlord relied on some of the most important maps, charts and imagery intelligence in history,” said Cardillo. “Annotated positions for targeting, terrain models for cliff-side assaults and landing zones for gliders and paratroopers. With such intelligent insight Eisenhower maximized his understanding of the adversary and minimized the adversary’s understanding of his capabilities and intentions. Maximize your awareness, counter theirs. That’s always been the equation.”
The care and strategic planning this took, with all the tools available, all the while keeping in mind so many critical aspects of the operation, is part and parcel of intelligence, and now what we call geo-intelligence. Today, we have a persistent view of the world from space, air, sea and ground, which in five years will maybe produce a million times the amount of geospatial data we have today.
So while we may look at the D-Day Operation as a time of data scarcity, now we have data abundance and the need to bring together a coherent picture of the world from all the data gathered.
Cardillo said, “if we were to attempt to manually exploit the commercial satellite imagery we expect that’s over the next 20 years, we would need eight million imagery analysts. Even now, every day in just one combat theater with a single sensor, we collect the data equivalent of three NFL seasons – every game. In high definition!”
This burgeoning requirement opens the door to the need for partners. Besides being the director of the NGA, Cardillo is the Functional Manager of the U.S. GEOINT Community.
He spoke of the GEOINT international community and partnerships with academia and industry. By sharing a set of principles, Cardillo said that the U.S. can build a “far more effective, unified, professional and interoperable GEOINT Enterprise.” Goals:
Cardillo stressed “community first” (and extends that community to the world) that characterizes Team GEOINT, and pointed to the NGA’s longstanding partnership with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Ten years ago, the NGA invested in R&D at Oak Ridge and today, with the help of the Gates Foundation (another partnership), Oak Ridge created a map of Nigeria based on satellite imagery and more than 2,000 on-the-ground neighborhood surveys. Up until this time, Nigeria was relying on 10-year-old Census data. This partnership has revealed settlements that were non-existent a few years ago and will help the country save a billion dollars and countless lives when they distribute their measles vaccine next year.
The NGA’s Arctic DEM was released just recently in conjunction with the University of Minnesota’s Polar Geospatial Center, under the leadership of the NGA colleague Paul Moran.
The ongoing subject of simplifying the acquisition of GEOINT data and services through the CIBORG initiative for government partners was discussed. The government wants to be able to acquire commercial imagery, data, analytic capabilities and services easily and quickly. CIBORG makes it possible for organizations to purchase and access commoditized commercial data and services directly through GSA for their mission demands. GSA has added 10 new vendor contracts to CIBORG, while 20 more are in the process of being added.
Partnering has never been easier within the government with the JANUS content services for data partners, providing a gateway for GEOINT suppliers that matches user needs to suppliers, then brings the content and services to GEOINT customers.
NOME has been developed for partners so they can crowdsource and build foundation data for areas that have no existing coverage.
A new GEOINT service called Beachfront automates the creation of new coastline using commercial satellite imagery sources. The pilot coastline is the river delta system on the border of India and Bangladesh. “It would have taken one analyst five hours to reduce these vectors manually – it took Beachfront less than six minutes,” said Cardillo.
While technology and analysis are vital to GEOINT and the NGA, Cardillo said the people who can solve problems they haven’t thought of yet are what they must have in place.
Cardillo asked for feedback in a couple of areas, what he called GEOINT Assurance. He said they need to work in the unclassified material for some situations because so many of their answers come from that arena, and so many of their customers work in unclassified data. The challenge is to work with analysts to determine the difference between bad data and good data.
Secondly, he said automation and augmentation are areas they would like some feedback on. Analysts need to be able to find the meaning in the data. Augmentation is needed right now in the area of Full Motion Video (FMV). “Currently FMV is time consuming, manually intensive, redundantly exploited, poorly integrated and leaves a great deal of useful data unexploited and undiscovered,” said Cardillo.
It still remains essential to national security, but needs to be made more efficient and less costly. Buzz Roberts has been named as the NGA’s new Director of Artificial Intelligence, Automation and Augmentation.
Cardillo’s message about Team GEOINT and creating a Public-Private Partnership was talked about last year. He describes it as “an innovative and interdependent relationship between NGA and industry that supports and grows both our capabilities.”
Dr. Anthony Vinci has been assigned to address the challenges of the new Public-Private Partnership. A new Office of Ventures and Innovation will also be headed up by Vinci, with Dr. David Bray from the NGA running the office.
Cardillo showed a photo taken 11 days after D-Day of his father, Second Lieutenant, Richard Cardillo, who was handed a diploma by President Eisenhower.
While today’s operations don’t hold such defined timelines as Operation Overlord, Cardillo said, the missions of intelligence gathering and dissemination for the safety of the people will still bring us together.
A segment of the inspiring letter General Eisenhower read, goes as follows: “Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen of the Allied Expeditionary Force…The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you…You will bring about…security for ourselves in a free world.”
Categories: aircraft tracking, analytics, Big Data, citizen science, crowd source, data, disaster relief, emergency response, GEOINT, geospatial, GIS, global aircraft surveillance, government, GPS, LBS, lidar, location intelligence, mobile, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, National Map, NGA, public safety, satellite based tracking, satellite imagery, sensors, small sats, spatial data, transportation