Naval Advantage Lies With New Technology Approach

February 01, 2012 -- A leading defence geospatial expert has recommended the Australian Navy develop an enterprise-wide Geographic Information System (GIS) approach to Rapid Environmental Assessment (REA) to deliver unprecedented advantages in both surface and sub-surface warfare.

Speaking at the Pacific 2012 International Maritime Exposition in Sydney today, Esri Australia Manager for Defence Simon Hill said a Service-wide approach to the Navy’s use of geospatial technology was crucial to an improved REA capability.

“An REA capability is designed to develop a heightened understanding of operating environments and their likely impact on military operations in a tactically relevant timeframe,” Mr Hill said.

“To improve REA, Navy must coordinate its geospatial data and processes across the force with a Service-wide approach to its technology systems.

“An enterprise GIS approach is the only way to ensure the coordinated, systematic and timely collection and distribution of environmental information – such as hydrographic, bathymetric, oceanographic and atmospheric data – to military planners, decision makers and operational forces.”

Mr Hill said the current dissemination of information in defence can be manually intensive and time-consuming, with data stored across many diverse systems that are often unconnected or use different networks.

“Using an enterprise GIS approach, environmental data from disparate systems can be combined, or ‘mashed up’, on a map or chart, which creates a single point of truth,” Mr Hill said.

“This ensures Navy personnel have access to the most accurate, up-to-date, maritime geospatial information available, which strengthens their ability to make rapid, accurate decisions in theatre, on exercise or in response to a humanitarian disaster.”

Mr Hill said the Australian Hydrographic Service (AHS), which is at the global forefront of Meteorological and Oceanographic (METOC) data discovery and dissemination, was one organisation that had much to gain from an enterprise GIS approach.

“AHS is internationally lauded for its METOC geospatial information and services provision – however, the manually intensive methods they must undertake to do so are not sustainable,” Mr Hill said.

“AHS data is enormously important to the Navy and other areas of the Australian Defence Force, which are increasingly recognising the value timely access to maritime REA can provide across many operations.

“The advantages of the superior efficiency and increased collaboration inherent in an enterprise-GIS approach would bring rapid and meaningful distribution of AHS information.”

The value of an enterprise GIS approach to REA is being demonstrated at the Pacific International Maritime Exposition, the region’s leading event for commercial maritime and naval defence technologies, services and products.

As the Australian leaders in geospatial technology, Esri Australia is hosting a series of kiosks which bring together experts from around the world to demonstrate best practice in applying enterprise GIS to REA.

“Attendees have access to some of the world’s top geospatial minds, including several specialists flown in from the U.S., who are available to answer specific queries and relate the demonstrations to relevant maritime scenarios,” Mr Hill said.

“Esri Australia’s partners, Systematic, Perceptive Pixel and HP, are also on hand to show attendees how a fully-integrated and comprehensive enterprise maritime data management solution can be operated.

“We’re encouraging Defence professionals to give us feedback to help guide future development and ensure our solutions are continuously evolving to meet contemporary needs.”

Pacific 2012 International Maritime Conference is currently underway at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour, with the event finishing tomorrow.

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