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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Robert Cardillo, the Deputy Director for Intelligence Integration, Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) closed out this year's GEOINT 2013* Symposium keynotes midday Thursday, stating that his address was the appropriate bookend to his superior DNI Clapper's opening session on Tuesday.  Adding to Clapper's three S's, Sequestration, Snowden and Syria, Cardillo adding a 4th "S", Soviet, as a proxy for Russia and the emerging problem in the Ukraine.

At this point he reminded the audience that the world has evolved, it's more connected, and the intelligence community (IC) has to embrace and leverage capabilities in this new environment to remain viable.  A nod to NGA Director Tish Long's address, he pointed out that immersion is about overcoming technical inhibitions, but it's also about overcoming cultural ones following that "integration is not an object, not an endpoint, but a state."  He's heartened by Dir. Clapper's continued leadership of the IC, along with Dir. Long and many others--"there has been and will be 5-7 years of continuous integration with support from leadership" above.  One result is the creation of National Intelligence Managers who create motivation, space and conditions for conversations which otherwise might not exist.  Currently totaling 17, he provided examples of subjects such as "Korea" or "Finance" as subjects areas around which these conversations are built.

Earlier Thursday morning, during a press only briefing, when asked to explain "in plain words" his own job title, in effect, what intelligence integration really is, he said that position was created to merge responsibilities for analysis and collection together--a quick look at his bio explains his appropriate match for this position.  Cardillo is responsible for finalizing the morning Oval Office briefing for Dir. Clapper, usually spends his afternoons with other deputies in the National Security Council, and at the end of his day finalizes "the book"--the President's Daily Brief--also for Dir. Clapper.  In addition he's responsible for overseeing the National Intelligence Council--the group of aforementioned National Intelligence Managers.

When asked during the public address how the IC can address some of the historic disincentives to integration, he acknowledged that spending in stovepipes is often a roadblock.  The key is to reward the behavior you want.  How and by what incentives?  Those who engage in the marketplace will be rewarded with new levels of understanding--those who don't choose to engage will fall behind.

In both the morning briefing and the midday address he made a comparison between the cases for WMD in Iraq and in Syria.  With Iraq "we veered, we got off track" but with Syria, later, "we not only learned from our mistakes but we also employed what we learned."  He continued "we have to get good at telling our story and telling it publicly."  In the morning press briefing, Cardillo was asked about sharing with allies (including new "allies", such as Ukraine).  "There are risks--people we don't want to have information might get ahold of it.  We also consider what we think recipients will with with information--become overly alarmed or become overly confident?"  When asked what he recommended in the case of Ukraine, he paused:  "My job is to give the decision maker the choice--I empathize with the challenge of what to do--our papers have nice columns in black and white, but it's often grey."  More important, says Cardillo, is to consider 1) why does the President need to know X? 2) why now? and 3) can he do something with it now?  He shared that "the President likes to think contextually about a problem set.  That doesn't mean he needs to know satellite backflips or Gigahertz information.  The President respects the profession and trusts us to manage what's under the hood."

A photographic interpreter early on in his career, he said to the GEOINT community "I'm personally proud to turn in your homework everyday."  However, he feels that while "GEOINT's competitive advantage in intel is its openness, that openness is also its weakness."  Previously "the world was wired differently--we no longer have a monopoly, but we're getting over that."  In closing out his public remarks he stressed "if we don't embrace non-traditional, unprotected sources of information, we'll fade away.  Putting up those barriers undermines our mission."

Photo provided courtesy of USGIF

by Wes Stroh on 04/17 at 03:10 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Admiral William H. McRaven, Commander, United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM), United States Navy began the Thursday morning keynotes at the GEOINT Symposium by stating that "as we have global impacts, we have to have global perspective." As of last week, Special Operation Forces (SOF) operate in 84 countries around the world.  While many speakers early in the week have touted the new technologies underpinning the intelligence mission, Admiral McRaven explained the global mission of SOF. The Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) supports and talks to the geographic (GCC), theatre (TSOC) and more localized commands on a constant basis.  He spoke about "forcing communications" between theatre level commands, the TSOC's, which are really the center of gravity in the operation. Initially, TSOC's questioned the relevance of this engagement, but this has been overcome.  Increasingly it's becoming clear that "what happens in South America is connected to what happens in Africa ... in Asia ... "

Admiral McRaven discussed the power of partnering--"we'll partner with anybody"--to get information to support the mission.  And the list of current partners was indeed diverse, ranging from private companies such as FedEx, to universities, to many allied intelligence agencies from Commonwealth and NATO countries and beyond.  

Addressing the symposium audience he re-iterated "Everything I just told you about is GEOINT.  We can't break out the GEOINT ... it underlies everything."

When asked how important high-quality, commercial-of-the-shelf (COTS) imagery is, Admiral McRaven replied "the NGA provides exquisite imagery--used to make very important decisions--but the ability to share with our allied partners is problematic. Good, private imagery off the shelf can be shared" and that too, provides great value.

Asked to address the cultural change in SOF that began before and continues into his command, he spoke to the historical perception that all situations required direct response to situations.  "Look at Iraq, Afghanistan ... we have to partner direct action [counter terrorism and special warfare] with partner-capacity building.  We learned many valuable lessons in Afghanistan."

And on how industry can remain "out front" he spoke directly, and challenged industry by echoing a message heard many times throughout this year's symposium, "build systems that naturally collaborate with each other."  He stated that great partners build great unique capabilities continuing that benefit is found in a variety of solutions but these solutions need to "be able to share.  As you build platforms, imagery, visualization, no matter what I throw on a server someplace, it's got to be compatible to what's out there."

Photo provided courtesy of USGIF

by Wes Stroh on 04/17 at 07:56 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share


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
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