GeoWorld October 2012

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yesterday. This ability to document what happened in the previous 24 hours represents an amazing pace of change, considering it wasn't that long ago when people were drawing maps by hand. But today's national-security landscape is radically different, and the role of geospatial intelligence has evolved in an almost unrecognizable way. For example, mere hours after the 2010 earthquake T in Haiti and the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, citizens and first responders alike were independently collecting and sharing information on the roads, ports, airports and facilities via the Internet. Such "crowd- sourcing" of geospatial intelligence using social-media applications on GPS-enabled personal computing devices introduced a new paradigm in the way people think about GEOINT collection and production. Facebook and YouTube now store huge amounts of pictures with the associated labeling and tagging needed to explain the geospatial content within a picture. As a result, the intelligence community no longer is tied to a linear exploitation process based on a limited suite of national space-based sensors using expensive hardware and software. Society is witness- ing an evolution of a different magnitude as informa- tion about Earth—and, perhaps more importantly, the human terrain—becomes available in real time, allow- ing everyone to be a GEOINT producer and consumer. From a national-security perspective, the transforma- tive opportunity is to think through and apply a technical process to manage and integrate this newfound wealth of complex information. The GEOINT community needs to capitalize on personal location- and activity-based information through time to create a viable global-watch capability while developing clear privacy guidelines. The goal is to accelerate the integration and processing of the human terrain to improve predictive capacity, thereby minimizing the surprise factor in national-security and defense communities. It's time to abandon the hands-off approach to citizen-gathered information and acknowledge that national security now is about people, events and their relationship to Earth. Drawing Maps by Hand In the 1970s, the production process for making maps and charts was linear and completely manual—a lot of science mixed with art. The source of most information, Just hours after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, citizens and first responders were independently collecting and sharing information on roads, ports, airports and facilities, bolstering humanitarian efforts on the ground. O C TOBER 2O12 / WWW . GEOPLA CE . C OM 23 oday's geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) commu- nity delivers information much like a newspaper: it does a good job reporting what happened especially about denied areas, came from a limited, highly classified national-satellite capacity. The satel- lites took photos on film, which was dropped to Earth, collected, processed and then used to produce or update maps and imagery intelligence. It certainly was state-of-the-art for its day, but the fight was for cloud- free coverage in square kilometers and currency in months, if not years. The digital transformation of the 1980s required a huge government investment in research and development to create the hardware, software and networks needed to evolve the tradecraft to include more digital processes. Rather than taking months, if not years, to produce a product, GEOINT reporting became more valuable in terms of providing timely, accurate and relevant information in months, if not weeks, in crisis situations. As hardware processing, storage, network and GPS technologies improved in the 1990s, the intelligence community started stripping away barriers to keeping information accurate and current. In addition, it didn't have to develop full-blown maps. Analysts could create customized image maps to meet basic mission needs. Response times went down to days, if not hours. The linear practices of the past now are giving way to new dynamic processes based on the human factor that are event-driven to extend analytical depth and improve predictive analysis. Tomorrow's GEOINT evolution will NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY

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