Mapping out Geospatial Uses

Geospatial, as a strict term, means data that is related to a location. In the government space, Geospatial has been used interchangeably with GIS - or Geographic Information Systems - which refers to technology that uses geospatial data. GIS has long been a key technology for the military and intelligence communities to help map out and gain visibility into areas for combat or missions. But as the availability of geographic data grows through the use of GPS applications, drones, and IoT technologies, the use of GIS is expanding across government.

GIS is a key tool in disaster response helping overlay available resources and assets onto maps of areas impacted by floods or fires. It can also be used to map in real time the location of hazards such as downed power lines.

GIS is also being used by law enforcement. In one case, a boy had gone missing, suspected to be abducted. The boy posted a photo to Instagram and the image, taken from what seemed to be an apartment window, included a sign on a bank across the street. An analyst looked up branch locations and cross-referenced the addresses with online maps, but could not get a location that seemed to be a possible match. When they took that data and loaded it into a GIS system that took a top-down look at locations they were able to pinpoint the location of the child.

Urban sprawl and growth is also being managed with GIS. The city of Durham, NC uses aerial imagery to get a better look at changes being done to properties that impact land use, water runoff, and drainage.

There are several upcoming events focused on GIS as well as others that include discussion of the application of geospatial technology.

  • 2019 GEOINT Electro Optical Technical Symposium (February 4-8, 2019; Springfield, VA) - Held at the National Geospatial Agency (NGA) headquarters, this event is a collaborative forum that brings together analysts, scientists, and technologists to discuss current trends and emerging technologies in remote sensing and GEOINT technologies.
  • 7th Annual Automated ISR and Battle Management Symposium (February 12-13, 2019; Alexandria, VA) - This event brings together DoD, intelligence community, military services, and critical organizations to discuss solutions and techniques to exploit ISR data in support of the warfighter.
  • Small Sats Workshop: The Speed of Innovation (February 19, 2019; Springfield, VA) - Organized by the USGIF (United Stated Geospatial Intelligence Foundation), this two-day event features classified and unclassified tracks that both include discussions and hands-on workshops with the latest small satellite technology.
  • AFCEA DC Machine Learning and AI Summit (March 27, 2019; Washington, DC) - This event includes discussion about the application of Machine Learning and AI with ISR solutions.
  • Smart Cities Connect Conference and Expo (April 1-4, 2019; Denver, CO) - This event aims to accelerate the adoption of smart technology solutions, aid in problem solving, and amplify city resources for the betterment of cities, communities, and their citizens.
  • Critical Infrastructure Protection and Resilience North America (May 7-9, 2019; Tampa, FL) - This event will bring together leading stakeholders from industry, operators, agencies, and governments to collaborate on securing North America. A focus will be meeting the Presidential Policy Directive 21 (PPD-21): Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience that advances a national policy to strengthen and maintain secure, functioning, and resilient critical infrastructure.
  • GEOINT 2019 (June 2-5, 2019; San Antonio, TX) - This annual event gathers the global GEOINT Community to discuss opportunities and solve challenges. The event includes hours of programming including keynotes and small group discussions as well as an exhibition of technology and product vendors.
  • Defense TechConnect Fall Summit and Expo (October 8-10, 2019; National Harbor, MD) - This event brings together defense, private industry, federal agency, and academic leadership to accelerate state-of-the-art technology solutions for the warfighter and national security. The summit includes The Defense Innovation Technology Acceleration Challenges (DITAC), connecting emerging technologies with DoD component commands, officers, and acquisition experts.

Let us know where you are learning about applications for geospatial data and GIS applications in the comments.

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