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Thursday, April 17, 2014


Spatial Data Structures Prompt Award

Hanan Samet, a Distinguished University Professor of Computer Science at the University of Maryland, has been named the 2014 recipient of the IEEE Computer Society's prestigious W. Wallace McDowell Award for his contributions to spatial data structures.

A Woman in GIS Awarded

The ADVANCE Rising Tide Center recognized one of three employees for significant achievements as a female scientist at The University of Maine.

Dr. Kate Beard-Tisdale, School of Computing and Information Science, was recognized on April 10 in the Coe Room of the Memorial Union for her expertise in Geographic Information Science (GIS). Beard-Tisdale gave a one-hour presentation, “A Passage In Time,” about the effective usage of spatial and temporal information for human consumption and analysis.

The ADVANCE program, funded with a $3.2 million, five-year National Science Foundation grant, aims to increase the percentage of women faculty in STEM and Social and Behavioral Science (SBS) fields.
NIU Lab Lauded
This week Northern Illinois University’s Division of Research and Innovation Partnerships recognized seven for their innovation. Among the seven was a pair from the school's Geovisual Mapping Lab.

Jodi Heitkamp and Philip Young: “NIU geovisual mapping laboratory”

The Geovisual Mapping Laboratory has had a major impact on NIU students and the surrounding communities based upon the variety of projects produced within the lab. The lab has procured site licenses for two of the major GIS software companies (ESRI & Intergraph), and was designated one of seven Centers of Excellence in Mapping, in the United States. Most importantly, the GML provides pedagogy for student involvement, including internships and assistantships.

Continue reading...

by Adena Schutzberg on 04/17 at 03:31 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

In her keynote address at the GEOINT Symposium, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) Director Letitia Long continued to refine and define her vision for the preeminent government geospatial technology agency. It's a vision that began in 2010 with identifying the needs of the warfighter when the U.S. was still engaged in two wars and pushing geospatial information to them with a drive for mobile applications.

Now, continuing the mission driven by the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, to more completely share information among the intelligence agencies, reduce redundant systems and integrate information from multiple sources, Long's goal is to generate a sense of urgency. This urgency is manifest in pushing both information and technology down closer to where it's needed, in real-time and perhaps by reducing the barriers to which agencies, both at the federal and local level can benefit from the expertise of NGA. Long articulated her vision this way:

Intelligence integration will succeed only if NGA is the driver for that integration and GEOINT serves as the very foundation. AT this critical moment, we can not rest. Together we must press forward with an even greater sense of urgency whether we face an adversary, a political crises or a natural disaster we must continue to drive the leading edge of geoint. That is exactly why we at NGA are accelerating our momentum. That is exactly why  we are building the platform for community wide integration.  This  platform is NGA's declaration of our principals and priorities that drives integration forward and deliver the next phase of intelligence:  Immersion.

Immersion to Long is living, interacting and experimenting with the data in a multimedia, multisensory experience with  GEOINT at its core. That vision, while geocentric, articulates an understanding that few government policy-makers appreciate: multivariate and multi-sensor information is hard to humanly interpret visually and a geographic framework offers a perspective no other graphical medium can provide. Long continue:

To evolve to this phase, the NGA must complete our transformation from a provider of static products into a resource for dynamic geoint content, analysis and services. This platform reflects our priorities that enables us to complete our transformation and shape the immersive experience for the entire intelligence enterprise.

Long also noted that they are the first intelligence agency to release some of their software as open source code on GitHub. The first code released is an application called GeoQ, and in collaboration with FEMA offers first responders a series of "event pages" that can be customized to the needs of the individual local government public safety agency. This is a recognition on the part of NGA that some national emergencies begin at the local level.

In a press release issues on April 11th, "GeoQ provides workflow management and integrates imagery and analysis from multiple sources, such as photos from smart phones and news broadcast footage, to help identify disaster areas and extent of damage, said Ray Bauer, technology lead for NGA’s Readiness, Response and Recovery (IWG-R3) team. In an early test of the application, the IWG-R3 team supported a pilot project called "Blueprint for Safety" (see related article on this pilot) that was developed by GEO Huntsville, a non-profit economic development organization supported by Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.

Bauer continued, “We built GeoQ on all open-source frameworks to make it easily shareable with our mission and response partners. This allows them to integrate the software into their own visual display systems. What we’re hoping for now is to spark interaction with the GitHub communities to improve the code. As long as you have access to the Internet, you can be a part of the solution.”

This new vision for NGA positions the organization to support not only the integration of multiple data sources but a vertical integration between local, state and federal agencies.

Photos courtesty of the USGIF

by Joe Francica on 04/16 at 10:00 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

U.S. Patent No. 8,700,060 granted yesterday is titled "Determining a location of a mobile device using a location database." It uses Wi-FI data to locate a device in any environment.

Here's the abstract:

Methods, program products, and systems for determining a location of a mobile device using a location database are described. The mobile device can host the location database, which can store locations associated with access points. The locations can be distributed in a group of cells of a geographic grid. When the mobile device moves and connects to an access point associated with a location that is outside the group of cells, the mobile device can request an update of the location database. The mobile device can calculate a current location of the mobile device using current access points that are within a communication range of the mobile device by performing a lookup in the location database using identifiers of the current access points. The mobile device can calculate the current location using the locations corresponding to the current access points in the location database.

via Apple Insider

by Adena Schutzberg on 04/16 at 05:22 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency gave the final keynote Tuesday morning at GEOINT 2013*, during which he discussed “DIA’s Way Forward”—summed up:  Innovation, Investment, and Integration.  The way forward is about “bringing together” and he highlighted that this is particularly true for small business.  A wise innovation strategy includes:  start small, scale fast and fail cheap.  Following his keynote, LTG Flynn answer questions in a briefing.  Notable were his responses to the following:
“Given that you told us that DIA’s top secret customers number over 230,000, what’s your perspective on ICITE?” [ICITE--Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise-- is the Intelligence Community’s platform for sharing information across organizations and with varied stakeholders.]
“It’s changed a lot” said Flynn.  He continued that obstacles with acceptance of ICITE—no surprise—are of a cultural rather than technological nature.  “A decade of war has taught us that to win together we have to share, and beyond just sharing within the US intelligence community, we have to share with other countries.”
Integrating the cloud architecture has changed determinations of what an analyst needs to be successful.  A recent DIA analysis of over 900 apps showed that more than 700 were rarely used while in contrast a small number were used by thousands of analysts.  As a result, approximately 700 apps were retired resulting in multi-millions of dollars of savings, all accomplished over a period of 60 days.  “It’s forced a review of the contracting process.”  Flynn shared that he’s a business person by training, who learned and now leads an intelligence operation, but now it’s “time to apply business thinking.  A decade of living high on the hog—it’s changed.”
Photo courtesy of USGIF
by Wes Stroh on 04/16 at 05:19 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The Director of National Intelligence (DNI), James Clapper, addressed the GEOINT 2013* Symposium attendees and warned that the current budget cycle of the U.S. federal government will see no reprieve from current spending imperatives.  "We've been in a decreasing budget cycle and it will continue," said Clapper. "We told our national leaders that we were not going to do more with less; we're going to do less with less."

More pointedly, however, Clapper said that GEOINT is going to be increasingly critical to our national security because of the leaks by Edward Snowden. In addition, GEOINT has played a heavy roll in Syria and Ukraine analyses. Clapper said that  "customer #1 has gotten schooled up on what GEOINT can do for him," referring to President Obama.

Referring to Snowden, Clapper was decidedly annoyed at the current perception of him as a "hero" to students because of his supposed "whistle blower" intentions in releasing classified information. "Despite being a geezer, I get it," said Clapper. However, Clapper believes that compromising national security and ignoring the multitude of channels Snowden had available to him to report abuses places Snowden in the category of a traitor, not a patriot. "Snowden's release has gone way beyond professed concerns about privacy ; he released information on how we detect cyber threats and we lost critical foreign intelligence sources; we've seen threats change because of this; and now we are less secure than before."

However, Snowden's actions has had an impact on the intelligence community (IC) resulting in more transparency. Clapper said that the IC has declassified document in an effort to increase transparency but not without a cost. "Adversaries go to school on this transparency." But Clapper felt this was needed despite the cost and to make the attempt to "engage in conversations that free societies have and counter misconceptions that IC workforce is violating civil liberties." The very integrity of the IC was at stake said Clapper.

Photo courtesy of the USGIF

by Joe Francica on 04/16 at 04:37 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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