November 03, 2008
Report on GEOINT Symposium 2008
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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There is $1.4 billion for ISR taskforce money, but how much of that is devoted to Afghanistan and how much Iraq? “The ISR taskforce is to generate capability, how that capability is allocated between the two theaters is to be determined,” said Clapper. “We have a lighter force in Afghanistan, we are now in a mode of generating as much generic capability, want to create technology that is plug-in and not hardwired for one theater or the other.”

He noted that Afghanistan is larger than Iraq, it has much more demanding terrain, drug trafficking, political situation, dispersion of forces, that are different from the problems in Iraq. There is a review scheduled to plan for what to do in the next administration in these countries.

Clapper compared his experience in Vietnam in 1965 in intelligence, remarking that there is “no comparison with what we can do today – what data we can move or portray.” Even in the time since Desert Storm, ISR improvements have been “phenomenal.”

Vice Admiral Robert Murrett

Vice Admiral Robert Murrett
Vice Admiral Bob Murrett, director of NGA, talked about the new facility to be built to house the NGA, “New Campus East.” One quarter of NGA personnel work outside the NGA, which allows them to make sure GEOINT is provided in ways that are relevant across many different domains. There are more than 2,000 people making sure GEOINT is utilized both domestically and internationally. Murrett mentioned that the personnel of the organization have gone forward and operate in tough environments, and they come back as different people. These are the future leaders of GEOINT.

Murrett said that the NGA is getting better at integrating architectures, particularly their ground architecture, with forms of imagery that are platform neutral. The array of sensors they have across electromagnetic spectrum is becoming very important.

GEOINT is viewed best by what it really looks like, said Murrett, giving examples which were essentially humanitarian examples. One was to support the humanitarian crisis in Darfur with layers of geoint analysis. In Asia and the Far East, GEOINT offered support for natural disasters and is available immediately for any disaster.

Foundation data domains were discussed as a way to have data distributed across numerous domains, retrievable in different forms for key purposes and services. This is particularly valuable for the international work they do.

Data centers allow the NGA to keep data together in a data center, and allow the integration of people, data and common access to data. Integrated data centers are where people can access data rapidly.

NGA provides the most support of any entity for commercial imagery, which has become incredibly valuable.

IC Collaboration Tools are being used by people using virtual analytical integration and community knowledge base.

Current and future challenges include:
  • Retaining and deepening workforce expertise – biggest asset is the workforce, 8,000 government and 7,000 others – leadership of personnel is great- retention is “too high.”
  • Balancing mission requirements. Warfighting support provided is essential, proliferation, WMD, humanitarian concerns – balance all these.
  • Moving to a sensor-neutral architecture – taking all the diversity of platforms and types of data and harnessing them most effectively in sensor neutral architecture, ground architecture is part of that, and entities such as USGIF
  • Developing IGA/community IT
  • Expanding industry engagement
  • Sustaining consistent R&D investment, typically cutbacks throw out R&D first, NGA have fenced part of the organization to keep R&D regardless of the pressures in the next few years economically.

  • “New Campus East is about us being more effective as a broader team, not just a new home, we spend a lot of time driving around Washington in traffic,” said Murrett. They should be moved in June next year and finished moving in Sept. 2011.

    Murrett was appointed one of three GEOINT functional managers by the Presidential Executive Order 12333. He said the “most important thing for functional managers to do is to integrate with other functional managers, and explain the importance of the mission set to people.”

    In a press conference, Charles Allen, assistant secretary, Office of Intelligence and Analysis, Department of Homeland Security, spoke on the importance of GEOINT to homeland security. Allen said that the most important thing from a functional management point of view was to continue to participate but not be completely responsible for training the entire U.S. government, yet coordinate training for everyone.

    Access to common libraries that are rapid and instantaneous in real time are available today, said Murrett, with most commercial imagery available to personnel today. One concern is that “For bandwidth disadvantaged personnel who need imagery in a time sensitive way, we need to make sure we have an appliance or data storage facility that is in the same time zone they’re located. We will have more data centers in the future.”

    Top News of the Week

    U.S. Army Topographic Engineering Center demonstrated its BuckEye system, Geo-referenced PDF project (GeoPDF), Joint Geospatial Enterprise Services (J-GES) program, and Engineering Field Planning, Reconnaissance, Surveying, and Sketching Set (ENFIRE) during the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation's 2008 GEOINT Symposium, October 28-30.

    BuckEye is a high-resolution digital imagery system that uses a 39-megapixel color camera and Light Detection and Ranging elevation data to produce unclassified 10-15 centimeter resolution imagery for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and change detection missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    ISC announced the availability of the public beta release of
    MapDotNet UX, the next generation .NET GIS platform. MapDotNet lets organizations visualize, analyze and maintain their geospatial data. Application developers can build easy to use desktop and web-based mapping applications that can be used by an executive, manager, analyst or the general public. The beta release can be downloaded at

    The first public release of a
    RapidEye image is being unveiled on the company's website. This demonstration image highlights the capabilities of RapidEye imagery in many market segments, by showing diverse landscapes that include agricultural fields, forests, cities and roads.

    The image shows the area of El Bolsón in Argentina near the Argentinian-Chilean border. El Bolsón is situated in the far southwest of the Río Negro Province in Argentina at the foot of the Piltriquitron Mountain. The image was recorded by RapidEye's camera built by Jena-Optronik of Jena, Germany from the satellite RapidEye # 1, named Choros, at a nadir view angle and has a pixel size of 5 meters. It was downloaded to KSAT (Kongsberg Satellite Services) in Svalbard, Norway and electronically transmitted to the RapidEye headquarters in Brandenburg, Germany.

    Acquisitions, Agreements, Alliances

    Lockheed Martin and
    Pictometry International Corp., have signed a collaboration agreement to provide next-generation geospatial technologies to federal, state and local government customers. The two companies will work together to integrate Pictometry's unique imagery and algorithms with Lockheed Martin's geospatial-intelligence analysis systems, creating powerful solutions for a wide variety of national and local applications.


    Optech lidar technology has detected snow on Mars. The discovery was made by the Optech-designed lidar system aboard NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander, which landed near the Martian North Pole on May 25th, 2008 to search for water and environmental habitats that could harbour life. The snow was detected from clouds about 4 kilometers above the spacecraft's landing site, and data shows the snow vaporizing before reaching the ground. Spacecraft soil experiments have also provided evidence of past interaction between minerals and liquid water, processes that occur on Earth.

    At the GEOINT 2008 Symposium in Nashville,
    ERDAS featured the recently announced ERDAS APOLLO 2009, and the latest releases of ERDAS IMAGINE, LPS and ERDAS TITAN. ERDAS and SGI also showcased the main server, a SGI Altix XE 240 system, from Empire Challenge 2008 at GEOINT. This server hosted indexed metadata for various data stores of imagery, serving data via Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) services.

    Pictometry International Corp hosted its third annual Pictometry FutureView user conference in San Antonio. FutureView 2008 began October 27th at the Marriott Rivercenter and ran through October 29. This year’s featured guest speaker was Don Cooke, Chief Scientist for Tele Atlas, a leading provider of digital maps and content for the burgeoning personal navigation industry.

    You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.

    To read more news, click here.

    -- Susan Smith, Managing Editor.

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