October 29, 2007
Notes from the GEOINT 2007 Symposium
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- 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.
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.
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.
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