Notes from the GEOINT 2007 Symposium
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Notes from the GEOINT 2007 Symposium


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Industry News
Notes from the GEOINT 2007 Symposium
by Susan Smith


Last week I attended the GEOINT 2007 Symposium in San Antonio. This symposium, spawned by the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF), was first held in November 2004 in New Orleans where it drew 1,500 attendees. This year, the symposium attracted over 3,200 attendees, and is heralded as the nation’s “premier intelligence event.”

The symposium attracts an audience of intelligence and defense professionals. The theme of the symposium, “Integration for Collaboration: Enabling a Seamless Enterprise,” was divided up into blocks, which included keynote speakers, panels and interoperability demonstrations.

Rich Haver, VP of Intelligence Programs for Northrop Grumman, was the master of ceremonies for the first block on Monday morning, entitled: “Supporting the Warfighter.” Haver spoke about the need for more partnership between industry and government. There is an “Abundance of resources to get geospatial information, need for better collection and to get value out of it. We can do better with what we have, need to find the way to do that. Part of it is in the private sector. While government can come up with the ideas, it’s industry that builds the systems and tools.”

Haver also said that this year, the USGIF Educational program awarded 12 scholarships totaling $54,000 to students who are studying GEOINT in universities.

The keynote was delivered by Gen. James E. Cartwright , U.S. Marine Corps, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, who stated that we are struggling to know how to move forward. He cited three types of planning:

- Threat based planning – based on current perceived threat.
- Capabilities based planning acknowledges you don’t know what the enemy is, and what they come at you with
- Resource planning

Cartwright said that the incentive structure needs to be changed. There is not a technical architecture and no one incentivized to use it.

“You still have to connect with the threat, but do you know what the threat is when you build an aircraft carrier today that’s supposed to last until 2050? And what if your crystal ball is wrong?”

The need for “persistent surveillance” was raised, in order to get geospatial information to the war fighter. The analysts generally get the information, but it’s difficult to get it to the war fighter. The armed forces are placing more geospatial professionals amongst the war fighters, so that they will have this information.

A frightening thought, but one that resonated with everyone in the audience: “There is not going to be a peace dividend on this war, think of it as a hundred year war. What capabilities do we need to fight that war?”

New technologies:

- Signal intelligence (sigint) is one of the greatest cuers. “It’s relatively pervasive persistent and has a lot of capability to be converted. We’ve got to move that and start to cue our sensors, broad area and match to a weapon.”

- Full motion optical video, which is creating a track file. This would be another way of getting information to the war fighter.

click to enlarge [ Click to Enlarge ]
CartaLens from National Geographic and MetaCarta
- Collaboration: Cartwright also had a new definition for collaboration: it is mixing and matching and creating no scenes for the enemy to get inside of. By putting two ints side by side to talk to each other. Currently the different intelligence agencies don’t communicate well.

In the Q&A session following the keynote, the question was asked:

Q: The geospatial component of information has been stovepiped. How do we elevate geospatial?

“Horizontal integration,” said Cartwright. “It’s a cultural problem, not a technical issue. Over the last two or three years, we worked hard to remove technical barriers. We did a lot on data protocols that have removed technical boundaries. How do we decide who the customer is vs. who is the protector of information?. Change the incentive structure from those who provide to those who consume. What does it take to move product to customer inside timelines?”

“It’s hard to move a large institution from threat-based to capabilities based. It is long overdue. People are pushing at it. These technical architectures have an element associated with government, industry and Congress. Until we can get incentive structures aligned across all those structures, it won’t work.”

“The boundaries that live between the ints live between the committees also. The good news in some of the legislation coming forward, is that there is a growing awareness of this challenge inside Congress and a willingness to take it on. You can’t look at an integrated collection architecture without looking at it aligned across structures.”

Q: Has classification been a barrier to international collaboration?

“We have to be able to differentiate between what we want to keep secret and the perishability of that information vs. a one size fits all construct. SkyWeb is a web based collaboration tool to share operations intelligence. England and Australia bought their own application. We finished an application that allows us to share. My intent over the next year is to put fire back into this discussion. When it’s available and there are schemes there to protect what we have to protect, then not sharing is unacceptable.”

“The perfect operating picture is the SkyWeb application, with the idea that you do not have a database, but a tool that goes out with a set of search engines, finds information and displays it, but the customer decides what they want to know, akin to Google, or My Yahoo. These are the tools that allow people to find what they want to know and use that information.”

Panel Discussion – View from Down Range

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey C. Horne, U.S. Army
Col. Bill Harmon, U.S. Army
Col. Keith A. Lawless, U. S. Marine Corps
Mr. William J. Farr, Chief Geospatial Information and Services, Deputy Chief of Staff, G2, U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USAOC)

Horne spoke about effects based thinking. Terrorists are well resourced, motivated, mobile and de-centralized. The U.S. intelligence has been 4-6 months behind terrorists in the ability to find or apprehend them. “We are now focused on massing the effect on that person, and on the battlefield, and also have to effect the populace.”

Referring to the fast pace of information, Horne stated, “30% of what it took to do your job today will be irrelevant in three years.”

He also said that “fusion cells are killer applications,” meaning perhaps a fusion of processes, intelligence agencies’ geospatial information, and cultures.

Col. Bill Harmon has just recently returned from Iraq. He stated that showing trends over time helps a situation come to life for the decision maker. He listed some highlights of geospatial information:

1) Most products are made to use within 24 hours
2) Most information is made to be merged. Fusion centers are good, and information is better if shared.
3) Experts sent to help in Iraq and Afghanistan.
4) Commercial imagery allows for sharing with other countries.
5) Forensic analysis is useful for fusing information in databases.

There are many fleeting targets, which highlights the need to adapt quickly. Information needs to come alive onscreen, and users must have the ability to switch layers on and off.

Col. Keith Lawless recalled that during Desert Storm there were almost no interagency efforts, and no system support, so they created their own geospatial products. During Iraqi Freedom, they began to see more usage, with 3D visualization products prevailing. During Katrina, the NCIA had significant geospatial capability.

Challenges:
- standardize data
- formats user friendly – Google Earth and SketchUp are key tools
- reach back, real time capability
- storage and rapid retrieval of products
- sharing of products – share with Iraqi and Afghani forces so that they have support after the U.S. leaves.

William Farr said they have a standardized system stored in a portal where anyone, meaning Army, Navy, Marines, can retrieve data. They have an NGA person within each team who helps train in geoint. Farr said “I can’t see us sharing ubiquitous information,” with Iraqi forces. “We provide as much as possible.” Iraqi forces do their own humanint and use Google Earth, and are housed in a building next to that of American forces, in Baghdad.

In the afternoon block, entitled “Analysis Transformation,” Jack O’Connor, Officer for the Persian Gulf, NGA, said that in terms of the NGA providing full motion video, “who would be looking at it all the time? We’ve got plenty of things we don’t have time to look at.”

Bran Ferren, co-Chairman, Applied Minds gave a keynote challenging much of what had been said in earlier talks - that the path we are on now may be “wrong” – “we can’t afford it, can’t staff it and it doesn’t scale.”

He suggested that our world has changed because of GPS, and the notion of geospatiality would have no meaning without it. He argued that the world needs another invention like GPS or the internet, which are brilliant, but relatively simple.

Ferren proposed that we mandate that all DOD sensor data be labeled with a small handful of data feeds including:
- precision data
- precision place
- who you are
- why you’re doing this
- a pointer to other metadata

Having this information would enable both commercial and government to build tools. This, he believes, would change the world.

The “Foundation for the Seamless Enterprise” block on Tuesday was keynoted by Vice Admiral Robert B. Murrett, U.S. Navy, and the director of the NGA as of July, 2006. He spoke of the effectiveness of GEOINT, as the “glue that holds everything together.”

He said that the NGA has improved analytic support and is producing GEOINT products that make a difference, collecting data from multiple sources and improving the dissemination of analysis, reporting and products to the war fighter.

Forward progress for the NGA includes:
- balancing mission requirements
- increasing partnerships
- expanding industry and academic engagement
- moving to sensor neutral architecture

Murrett is very positive about full motion video, and said that where the NGA’s greatest technology challenges lie is in storage processing, and transmission.

Exhibit Floor – Products

The products and technology displayed on the exhibit floor showcased what could be done with geospatial with federal funding. Technologies addressed the need for storage, full motion video, sensor technologies, remote sensing, 3D visualization and much more. I will likely delve into some of these technologies more deeply at a later date, but here are some samplings:

Murrett and other speakers were clearly impressed with the NextView commercial satellites, GeoEye’s Geo-Eye-1 and DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-1, which will provide better remote sensing coverage and greater accuracy.

GeoEye-1 will be able to collect images at 0.41-meter panchromatic (black & white) and 1.65-meter multispectral resolution. GeoEye-1 will also be able to precisely locate an object to within 3 meters of its true location on the surface of the Earth. The satellite will be able to collect up to 700,000 square kilometers of panchromatic (and up to 350,000 square kilometers of pan-sharpened multispectral) imagery per day.

GeoEye has begun work with ITT on the camera for GeoEye's next satellite, GeoEye-2. This is the first step in a phased development process for an advanced, third-generation satellite capable of discerning objects on the Earth's surface as small as 0.25-meter (9.75 inch) in size.

DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-1 was successfully launched on September 18 from Vandenberg Air Force Base and has been undergoing a routine calibration and check-out period. DigitalGlobe expects WorldView-1 to be fully operational and delivering imagery products by the end of the year if not sooner. DigitalGlobe is the only company operating a constellation of sub-meter commercial imaging satellites and in late 2008, will complete WorldView-2 which will provide eight bands of multi-spectral data for life-like true color imagery.

Companies that provide technology for WorldView-1 include ITT, which provided the imaging sensor and Ball Aerospace, which built the satellite. These companies exhibited at GEOINT as well.

Military satellites for satellite communications are produced by Boeing. Boeing launched a satellite that it is building for the U.S. Air Force from Cape Canaveral AFB on October 10. Boeing has received signals from this Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite and it is said to be healthy.

CartaLens, a geospatial digital asset management solution launched by National Geographic and MetaCarta, is a very cool tool for retrieving, georeferencing, managing and delivering digital assets. What is particularly special about this product is that every photograph taken by National Geographic can be accessed, as well as any text mentioned within any National Geographic magazine article. Photographers carrying a GPS-enabled camera can georeference their photographs, audio and videos. With the military’s focus on video, this solution is a very good fit for them.

Northrup Grumman will launch their Commercial Joint Mapping Toolkit (CJMTK) Geospatial Appliance, which combines the NGA’s unclassified domestic and international products and commercial software. This appliance makes accessible to developers and end users a set of worldwide geospatial data for emergency operations, conflict resolution, intelligence and special operations, among other activities.

Geollect from SRA International is an advanced vehicle navigation and logistics platform that embeds Web 2.0 capabilities, provides real time tracking, mapping and imagery displays from the NGA and other sources, integrated into Google Earth Enterprise products. Geollect was demonstrated in a Smart Car Cabrio at the symposium.

SRA also announced an advanced multilingual text mining platform, NetOwl, that is now integrated with Google Earth. NetOwl lets users analyze, geotag, and geoparse huge quantities of unstructured data from various sources and languages, and georeferences them through Google Earth.

SaffronWeb, a web-based application, allows analysts to review all available data to uncover relevant associations between people, places and things in disparate systems and formats. SaffronWeb also fuses intelligence from multiple systems while protecting previous IT systems.

In answer to the military’s requirement to receive geospatial information very quickly, Sarnoff Corporation launched MapIt!, a software product that allows users to build precise 3D site models of large urban environments in less than a day using LIDAR and aerial imagery. MapIt! automatically mosaics collected images and generates a continuous and accurate large- area 3D site model.

Autodesk demonstrated an offering called the iMOUT™ (Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain) solution that differentiates itself from other GIS 3D visualizations by giving planners an integrated view of urban structures “inside” (architectural design), “outside” (3D digital terrain modeling), and “under” (subterranean infrastructure modeling). Autodesk brings its historical legacy of 2D architectural design to this product, resulting in an accurate, interactive, 360-degree model of urban environments that leverages existing data and designed for use by military planners.

click to enlarge [ Click to Enlarge ]
SPADAC’s Signature Analyst, used in support of ORBIT
SPADAC recently announced its participation in the Object Recognition via Brain-Inspired Technology (ORBIT) program, This program is a result of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency contract award to Lockheed Martin. The ORBIT program will use electro-optical, light detection and ranging (LIDAR) and brain-inspired technologies to automatically recognize objects in urban environments from ground to aerial surveillance.

Emerging Technologies

NGA Innovision Directorate Vonna Heaton spoke during an Emerging Technologies session on “Building a Computer that Reads Minds.” The topic included the possibility of gaining real time insight into the brain’s computable states. According to Heaton, neuroscience can help us plan for behaviors, both normal and abnormal.

Eric Kandel, in his Principles of Neural Science, said that we must “understand the biological basis of consciousness and mental processes by which we perceive, act, learn and remember.”

The government’s use of and research and development in geospatial technology appear very broad. Yet throughout the conference, one theme was repeated consistently: once the technological problems are removed, the cultural barriers will still be there, within governmental agencies and outside of them. These barriers will likely present the greatest challenge to the intelligence and defense community, for a long time to come.

Top News of the Week

Leica Geosystems Geospatial Imaging announces plans for Earth Resource Mapper’s portfolio of solutions. By acquiring ER Mapper, Leica Geosystems amplified its enterprise delivery capabilities, supplementing its existing remote sensing applications that author, prepare, compress and deploy imagery.

ER Mapper Professional will immediately benefit from the integration of existing features and functionality from Leica Geosystems’ ERDAS IMAGINE® product suite. A new release scheduled for early 2008 will create a more robust and interoperable remote sensing solution for the market.

Acquisitions/Agreements/Alliances

Tensing, a specialist in enterprise mobile and geo solutions, named Enspiria Solutions, a leading provider of IT consulting and implementations for utilities, telecommunications, and public sector organizations, the latest Tensing Business Partner. The formal agreement was signed last week between the two companies. As a business partner Enspiria will be able to sell and implement Tensing’s entire suite of enterprise mobility solutions.

Announcements

1Spatial, in cooperation with Blue Marble Geographics, is leading a research initiative by the Spatial Data Quality Working Group of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC).

1Spatial has been an active Member of the OGC for a number of years and Product and Marketing Director for 1Spatial, Graham Stickler, is Chair of the Spatial Data Quality Working Group (WG). The Charter of this WG is to attempt to establish how data quality can be both defined and communicated, using standards to help in the reuse of spatial data and in the creation and management of spatial data infrastructures.

The Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) has another ambitious conference schedule in 2008 to meet the professional development needs of its multi-disciplinary membership. All of the volunteer committees for each conference are hard at work organizing educational sessions that challenge participants and events that strengthen professional networks. See press release

NCI, Inc., a provider of information technology services and solutions to U.S. federal government agencies, announced today that it has been awarded two technology demonstration task orders from the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) to develop cutting-edge search and geospatial visualization capability for key federal customers. The competitive task orders were awarded to NCI, together with Google Inc. and Next Tier Concepts, Inc. under the NETCENTS contract.

Financials

Trimble announced results for its third quarter 2007, ended Sept. 28, 2007. Revenue for the third quarter of 2007 was $296.0 million, up approximately 26 percent from revenue of $234.9 million in the third quarter of 2006. See press release

People

GeoEye, Inc., a leading producer of satellite, aerial and geospatial information, announced that CEO Matthew O'Connell received the prestigious Intelligence Achievement Award for Industry from the United States Geospatial Foundation (USGIF).

New Products

Pictometry International Corp. announced today that it is launching the Pictometry Military Planner™ at the GEOINT 2007 Symposium.

The Pictometry Military Planner is the most advanced of a range of Pictometry 3D modeling analysis tools specially designed for military use. It rapidly creates 3D fly-through models from 2D data and uses Pictometry’s oblique images to automatically apply photo-realistic textures to the model, further enhancing the realism of the virtual scene.

Cutting Edge Networked Storage debuted their new Modular Storage Solutions (MSS) and Integrated Storage Solutions (ISS) for the GIS community at the US Geospatial Intelligence Symposium (GEOINT 2007).

Cutting Edge demonstrated their flagship MSS and ISS offerings configured for GIS and defense applications. The MSS and ISS series of storage solutions are powered by Cutting Edge's 3rd generation field proven EdgeWare(TM), a fully integrated 64-bit storage operating system that provides a storage centric, easy-to-use and easy-to-support, heterogeneous network file system.

The Engineer Research and Development Center’s Topographic Engineering Center (ERDC-TEC) held demonstrations of its Joint Geospatial Enterprise System, ENFIRE, Battlespace Terrain Reasoning and Awareness system, GeoPDF mapping format, and award-winning BuckEye system during USGIF’s GEOINT 2007 symposium.

BuckEye uses a digital camera and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) elevation data to produce geospatial information for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), high-resolution 3D urban mapping, as well as change detection/battle damage assessment missions in support of the Global War on Terror.

Maponics, LLC pre-announced today the upcoming release of Maponics Postal Boundaries™ GIS data, including ZIP Code polygons and carrier route polygons. These boundary files are critical for any organization conducting direct marketing or trying to display accurate postal boundaries via web-based applications.

Leica Geosystems Geospatial Imaging announces the development of a new Tactical Airborne Mapping Surveillance (TAMS) system. TAMS is platform agnostic, with a multi-sensor payload capable of in-theater fixed wing, helicopter and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAV/UAS) deployment.

Upcoming Events

2007 IMTA Asia Pacific Annual Conference & Trade Show
Date: November 2 - 3, 2007
Place: Gold Coast International Hotel
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Trimble Dimensions 2007
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Surveying, Engineering, Construction, and Mapping professionals: process integration, new positioning solutions and advanced communications technologies are changing the competitive landscape.
Process integration, positioning and communication technologies will profoundly impact surveying, engineering, construction and mapping professionals. It’s ideally suited for:
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2007 ESRI Homeland Security GIS Summit
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Place: Adam's Mark Hotel
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Be a part of the 2007 Homeland Security GIS Summit to learn and share how GIS can be applied for critical infrastructure protection planning—a data fusion and analysis solution and for prevention/protection and response/recovery measures within an emergency operations center.
The ESRI Homeland Security GIS Summit provides a forum for you as professionals in local, regional, state, and federal government; utilities; and the private sector who establish priorities and set directions for your organization, and work to improve systems for public protection and business continuity.

 

GreenBuild 2007
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If designing, building, living, and working in green buildings is important to you, you're in good company. Come join 18,000 other people who agree that green building is a good idea and good for business at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo. Greenbuild 2007 will take place in Chicago at the new McCormick Place West Building.

 

7TH GEOSPATIAL INFORMATION FORUM
Date: November 8, 2007
Place: University of Southern Queensland
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Application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Remote Sensing, and Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS, GPS) to: Natural resource and environmental management Water resource management Agriculture Education Local government Forestry Asset management Emergency Services other...

 

Houston Area GDC GIS Day 2007 Showcases GIS Use and Promotes Geography Week
Date: November 15 - 16, 2007
Place: University of Houston
Central Campus, MD Anderson Library, Houston, USA
Don’t miss this year’s Houston Area’s GDC GIS Day 2007 Nov. 15-16, 2007 hosted at the University of Houston - Central Campus, MD Anderson Library.

 


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