Trajectory Magazine We are the official publication of the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) – the nonprofit, educational organization supporting the geospatial intelligence tradecraft Mon, 24 Jul 2017 20:15:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 127732085 Weekly GEOINT Community News Mon, 24 Jul 2017 16:00:45 +0000 NGA Signs Second Contract with Planet; OGSystems Spins Off BlueGlass Analytics Platform; Google Takes Street View to International Space Station

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NGA Signs Second Contract with Planet

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) announced a $14 million, one-year subscription to Planet. According to the press release, the subscription—made through Planet’s General Services Administration Information Technology Schedule Contract—enables the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community to access Planet’s imagery of more than 25 select regions of interest, ranging from portions of the Middle-East, Asia, and Africa to Central and South America. This contract follows a seven-month, $20 million pilot contract that began in September 2016.

OGSystems Spins Off BlueGlass Analytics Platform

OGSystems announced its location-based analytics BlueGlass platform has been spun off into an independent private company named GeoSpark Analytics. GeoSpark Analytics will continue the development of BlueGlass, building an ecosystem of applications and services that bring together big data from space, ground, and cyber with artificial intelligence and machine learning. OGSystems will be the exclusive integrator of the BlueGlass platform, now powered by GeoSpark Analytics.

Google Takes Street View to International Space Station

Google Street View has gone beyond Earth for the first time to offer Street View for the International Space Station (ISS). According to The Verge, Street View now allows users to explore the spaceship in panoramic 360-degree imagery in 15 connected modules. Users can check out all areas of the spacecraft and click on launch notes for more details. Google also released this behind the scenes video on mapping the ISS.

Geoscience Australia Releases Sea Floor Map

Geoscience Australia, the Australian government’s geoscientific research agency, released sea floor mapping data collected during the first phase of the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in 2014. The search involved collecting large volumes of data in a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean. Topographic data was collected to develop maps of the sea floor in the search area. Although the search did not uncover the missing aircraft, it did reveal undiscovered volcanoes, mountain ridges, and deep trenches that will contribute to a greater understanding of deep ocean geology. View the data here.

Peer Intel

Orbital Insight appointed Chris Incardona vice president of public sector and strategic program development. In this role, Incardona will pursue clientele in the defense, intelligence, and civil sectors of government. 

Barry Tilton joined Vricon as its vice president of engineering and chief technology officer for the company’s government programs. Tilton will spearhead efforts to create new content and improve response times and product quality for Vricon’s customers.

Photo Credit: Google Street View

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AI & Next Gen Big Data Architecture Mon, 24 Jul 2017 15:11:40 +0000 The future of big data analysis will rely on open-source and artificial intelligence

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Big data is exploding, and has been for several years. According to an IBM report, 90 percent of the world’s data has been produced since 2015 with no sign of deceleration. Panelists at the Defense One Tech Summit July 13 discussed what this data boom means for the Intelligence Community, the future of data architecture, and artificial intelligence (AI).

The development of new GEOINT tools—including AI algorithms for tasks such as image and pattern recognition and labeling—depends on high volumes of testable data. According to Dr. Jason Matheny, director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), open-source must become the norm if industry wants to continue to break ground in these areas.

“It’s too hard for the research community to advance if it’s required to rely on the small number of public data sets. Making more data available is critical,” Matheny said.

Industry’s instinct is to secure high-quality data in proprietary data lakes, available only to the source vendor and its business partners.

It will be up to government to lead the culture shift and to convince industry to unlock these lakes, relinquishing the valuable “oil of the future,” said Defense One technology editor and panel moderator Patrick Tucker.

When IARPA funds research, for instance, the commercial vendor is contractually required to make all unclassified data from the project publically accessible. As part of a new machine learning prize challenge, IARPA is releasing one of the world’s largest publicly available image data sets to date.

“It would be useful for all government sponsors to make that a requirement,” Matheny said. “The value of that data survives longer than the individual operation.”

As open-source data offerings grow exponentially in the years to come, AI will become necessary to store, scan, and label vast troves of imagery and information.

The current limitations of computing are not crippling, but creating architectures capable of analyzing the big data of the future is a major challenge for industry and government alike. With regard to high-performance computing systems, China and other competitors outpace the United States.

IARPA has invested heavily in a program called Machine Intelligence from Cortical Networks (MICrONS). The program seeks to leverage the immense computing capability of the human brain by reverse engineering the wiring of the brain’s neocortical columns.

Other ambitious researchers seek answers in quantum computing, but according to Matheny, this area is still far from operational relevance.

“To date, claims of the superiority of a quantum machine over a classical machine have been disproven,” he said.

Once proven, AI capabilities will change the role of the human analyst. The tedious cycle of image survey and inspection (which is prone to human error) will be taken over by intelligent algorithms. Analysts will focus on “the why”—interpreting the patterns identified by AI and predicting events.

According to the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Director of Science and Technology Ardisson Lyons, “It’s boring to stare at a monitor of pictures day after day. [A human] might not notice that a front left bumper is the same front left bumper of a truck you saw three weeks ago, but a machine is increasingly good at that. It’s a tremendous advantage.”

As AI becomes integrated into defense and intelligence processes, the pace of operations will accelerate, putting pressure on human decision-makers to consider outsourcing decisions to AI in order to maintain speed.

When small elements of operational control are relinquished to AI systems, ethical questions arise. One such question is that of lethal privilege. Should intelligent machines possess the ability to execute lethal action without the direct command of a human operator?

According to Dale Ormond, principal director of research for the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, the answer is a resounding ‘no.’

“Ultimately, the commander is responsible for releasing lethal force downrange,” Ormond said. “That’s a fundamental premise of how we run our military and I don’t see that changing.”                       

However, Ormond believes AI has an important place on the battlefield of tomorrow. This role lies in the analysis of adversary reactions. As the dynamics of war change on a day-to-day basis, AI programs could evaluate the potential responses of an enemy power based on past action, giving commanders a head start in operational decision-making.

Photo Credit: IARPA

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IARPA Opens Machine Learning Challenge Fri, 21 Jul 2017 16:46:30 +0000 Activity seeks deep learning algorithms to classify geospatial data

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The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) recently opened registration for a prize challenge in automated analysis and classification of objects within satellite imagery.

IARPA’s Functional Map of the World (fMoW) Challenge asks developers to build machine learning algorithms capable of classifying the function of facilities, specific buildings, and land—information used by intelligence personnel to support defense, humanitarian, and disaster response missions.

“We are hoping to introduce learning opportunities for the geospatial and deep learning communities to integrate their approaches and increase the exposure to the scientific gains that could be made by combining these two disciplines,” said IARPA spokesperson Charles Carithers.

Labeling objects within satellite imagery is time-consuming when handled by a human analyst and contributes to operator burnout. This challenge aims to produce breakthroughs in deep learning analysis that will accelerate this process and, in the absence of human error, improve accuracy.

In July and August, IARPA will release in two batches one of the world’s largest publicly available satellite image data sets to date, including roughly one million image “chips.” Each chip will highlight an unidentified point of interest and the library will contain 62 pre-defined categories. This data is the fuel participants will feed their algorithms.

“The release of this data set will stimulate further research and learning throughout the computer vision community to include hobbyists, academia, and industry,” Carithers said. “The availability of the data will enable development of solutions by those who don’t have easy access to this type of annotated data.”

Finalists will be selected based on correct classification of known points of interest from this data set. The most effective algorithms will be evaluated for speed and precision to determine final rankings.

Participants will compete for $100,000 in total prizes, including a $25,000 first place prize. Experts, academics, and novices alike are welcome to compete.

Those interested in participating may register now. Final submissions are due in December and awards will be announced in February 2018.

Photo Credit: NASA

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Man Meets Machine Wed, 19 Jul 2017 17:20:44 +0000 The future of combat will merge computer systems with the human mind

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The combat environment of the future will be defined by adaptive human-machine teaming. Panelists at Defense One’s Tech Summit July 13 discussed how advances in artificial intelligence and autonomous systems will yield a new class of warfighter—more capable, aware, and connected.

Imagine an Air Force pilot flying an aircraft equipped with highly complex sensor platforms collecting data not only about the jet and the surrounding environment, but the pilot as well. Those sensors could measure the pilot’s responsiveness and heart rate to determine his or her capacity to execute the mission—are they conscious and alert? Should the aircraft take corrective measures (such as unloading G’s of force) to get the pilot back to maximum performance?

This is the shape of the frontier to come—warfighters neurologically connected to their weapons and operating systems. Deep learning will allow automated, intelligent systems to adjust to the real-time condition of their human operator, helping them make better decisions.

To explore this emerging field, research teams are focusing on the collection of biometric data—the biophysical information people unconsciously produce when they think, breathe, and move.

According to Dr. Justin Brooks, a scientist with the Army Research Lab (ARL), “The fundamental issue is: what is the natural variability humans tend to express? We want to understand how their cognitive states, their emotional states, and their physical states all vary and co-mingle together. We ultimately want to build technologies that can adapt to those natural variations.”

ARL has constructed a program that will observe individual human behavior continuously for months or even years at a time. Behavioral and biometric data will be collected using wearable monitors and environmental sensors, with the goal being to shed light on the causal elements of human variability and to help teach technology how humans think and act.

Dr. James Christensen, a portfolio manager at the Air Force Research Lab, described the ability to sense and understand the state and capabilities of the operator as critical to the military’s successful employment of highly automated systems.

“The speed of the decision cycle with these kinds of systems is going to be so fast that they have to be sensitive and responsive to the state of the individual in their intent as much as their actions,” Christensen said.

Supporting research in the field is focused particularly on the human brain. Dr. Justin Sanchez, director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Biological Technologies Office, spoke about the challenge of developing precise neuro-technologies that interact with certain circuits of the brain or peripheral nervous system in real time, monitoring for changes in brain signals.

According to Sanchez, DARPA has succeeded in creating a direct neural interface for movement and sensation by connecting sensors to specific neurons within the brain.

“Think about somebody who has lost the ability to move or feel a limb. We can restore that function,” Sanchez said. “Think about memory. We can develop a direct interface to the brain to help facilitate the formation recall of memory after you’ve sustained a traumatic brain injury.”

In its Revolutionizing Prosthetics program, for example, DARPA created a virtual flight simulator for a quadriplegic person. Using the neural interface to interact with the simulator, this individual was able to fly a virtual aircraft over Paris.

“That was a real wake up call for everybody involved. … You could potentially remap your neural signatures onto the different control surfaces [of the plane],” Sanchez said. “These initial demonstrations help us think about what might be possible in the future, and that’s the exciting part.”

Christensen spoke about a biometric camera capable of measuring blood flow to the frontal cortex (indicating heart rate and stress levels) from distances of up to 300 feet. Because this capability relies on quality optics, it is conceivable to someday measure this blood flow data from space—allowing collection of biometric data from huge populations.

Brooks said he is excited about ARL’s research into stimulation of the vagus nerve through the inner ear—an area of the peripheral nervous system linked to an individual’s emotions. Brooks suggested that during stressful situations such as intense shooting exercises, correctly timed stimulation of the vagus nerve with an implant could calm a warfighter and immediately improve performance.

Though still in the early phases of development and application, wearable biotech shows promise as well.

Panel moderator and Defense One technology editor Patrick Tucker brought onstage a Marine Corps headset designed for warfighters to wear into battle. From the interface, the wearer can select whether they need water, supplies, ammunition, and more. The mission commander can see which operators need which supplies, allowing for proper resource allocation. The next generation of the headset will incorporate measurement of warfighter biometrics.

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Weekly GEOINT Community News Mon, 17 Jul 2017 15:47:31 +0000 Boundless Partners with Mapbox; Leidos Awarded $64 Million U.S. Army Task Order; Soyuz-2 Launches, Releases 73 Satellites; Carahsoft Offers Webinar Series

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Boundless Partners with Mapbox

Boundless announced a strategic partnership with Mapbox that will allow Boundless customers to access Mapbox base maps within the Boundless Connect ecosystem. Mapbox content will be available through Boundless Connect plugin or Boundless Suite and Exchange subscriptions. Available Mapbox base maps include Streets, Outdoors, Light and Dark, Satellite, and Satellite Streets.

Additionally, Boundless unveiled the next generation of its desktop GIS software with the release of Boundless Desktop 1.1. The update includes increased support for public key infrastructure authentication, new options for styling, new image discovery and terrain analysis toolbars, and access to Mapbox base maps.

Leidos Awarded $64 Million U.S. Army Task Order

Leidos was awarded a $64 million task order from the U.S. Army to integrate, test, and demonstrate three Airborne Reconnaissance Low-Enhanced (ARL-E) systems under the ARL-E program. ARL-E is a manned, multi-intelligent airborne platform that provides the ability to detect, locate, classify/identify, and track surface targets in day/night, near-all-weather conditions. Leidos will integrate the previously delivered mission equipment payload onto the DHC-8 aircraft, including testing and delivery of the complete ARL-E system.

Soyuz-2 Launches, Releases 73 Satellites

Soyuz-2 lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan July 14 carrying 73 satellites, including spacecraft for four companies’ small sat constellations, reports SpaceNews. This was the largest number of satellites flown on a single Russian rocket to date. The primary payload was the Kanopus-V-IK remote sensing satellite, accompanied by 72 small sat secondary payloads. Among the secondary payloads were 48 Dove satellites from Planet, eight Lemur satellites from Spire, and three CICERO GPS radio occultation satellites from GeoOptics. The launch also included two Corvus-BC medium-resolution cubesats from Astro Digital, small sats from the University of Toronto’s Space Flight Laboratory built for the Norwegian Space Center, and some small sats built by Russian universities.

Carahsoft Offers Webinar Series

Expanding on conversations from the GEOINT 2017 Symposium, Carahsoft will host a free webinar series July 24-27 titled “Riding the Wave of the GEOINT Revolution.” Each webinar will be led by experts from companies such as Google, Autodesk, and ikeGPS, and will include a discussion of current challenges the GEOINT Community is facing and present solutions that will keep the GEOINT Revolution moving forward. View the webinars and register today.

Photo Credit: Mapbox

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Mapping Public Transportation Fri, 14 Jul 2017 16:08:45 +0000 Measuring the performance of your city’s public transit

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According to the American Public Transportation Association, the use of public transit has grown more than 18 percent since 2005—a higher growth rate than both highway travel (five percent) and world population (nine percent).

To measure the social and economic benefits of this booming public service, the Center for Neighborhood Technology and TransitCenter created a joint project called AllTransit. This is the largest available repository of transit data and analysis, featuring more than 543,000 transit stops, 800 transit agencies, and 15,000 routes nationwide, according to the project’s website.

Users enter any location within America and AllTransit returns routes and times for that location’s bus, metro, and ferry services. The analysis includes a performance score for that location’s transit based on connectivity, access to job locations, and frequency of service. Herndon, Va., for example, earned a score of 6.5/10. A map is provided as well, visualizing the density of the area’s transit use.

AllTransit combines U.S. Census data with statistics from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to offer location-specific metrics in six categories: jobs, economy, health, quality, mobility, and equity. The jobs category, for instance, measures statistics such as the number of jobs accessible by a 30-minute transit commute, jobs located near transit stations, commuters who live within a half-mile of transit, and more. The equity category sheds light on how transit access varies by race, income, education, and vehicle ownership.

The AllTransit database serves to help public officials and city planners make more informed and effective decisions about the development of their region’s public transportation. Additionally, commuters new to an area can use the site to determine where to live and to ensure they have adequate access to the services they rely on to get to work.

According to GovTech, AllTransit is preparing to closely investigate “transit deserts,”—areas where residents have no immediate access to public transportation—in an effort to inspire those areas to provide transit for residents who need it.

As transit becomes more practical for America’s working population, other mapping services are beginning to include transit features as well. Since releasing iOS9 in fall 2016, Apple has continuously updated its Maps offering with transit data for various locales, providing iPhone users with information such as station entrance locations, sequential stops, and departure times.

Photo Credit: AllTransit

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USGIF Participates in Esri UC Fri, 14 Jul 2017 15:35:01 +0000 Foundation hosts exhibit booth, West Coast GEOINTeraction Tuesday, and more

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USGIF had a strong presence at the Esri User Conference (UC), held July 10-14 in San Diego, Calif. Esri UC attendees learned about USGIF and its wide range of initiatives via a variety of engagement opportunities.

“This was the most comprehensive engagement USGIF has had at the Esri UC in several years,” said USGIF CEO Keith Masback. “As GEOINT rapidly expands beyond its traditional bounds, the Esri UC represents a unique opportunity to reach across multiple sectors where the unifying thread is understanding the power of location.”

USGIF hosted a special edition of its flagship GEOINTeraction Tuesday networking event July 11. Approximately 120 individuals attended to network and hear from guest speaker Pino Nobile, head of the geospatial section at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Headquarters Situation Centre in Brussels, Belgium. The Situation Centre was established in 1968 and has since adapted to use more geospatial tools to alert and provide situational awareness to decision-makers.

“NATO’s mission is to operate on the same picture no matter where you are,” Nobile said.  

Additionally, Masback moderated a panel focused on the analyst tradecraft during Esri’s Defense and Intelligence Summit.

USGIF CEO Keith Masback moderated a panel on analytic tradecraft at Esri UC.

“Fundamentally, the Esri UC is about technological advances,” Masback said. “Having a panel of analysts on stage provided valuable insight, and was a reminder that the concept of analytic transformation extends beyond just technology and its discussion must also include people, processes, and data.”

USGIF’s Young Professionals Group (YPG) co-hosted two socials throughout the UC in collaboration with Esri’s Young Professionals Network. Attendees had the opportunity to learn more about the groups and discuss their conference experiences.

The Foundation exhibited in the expo hall throughout the week, handing out got geoint? T-shirts and educating conference goers about USGIF events and educational programs. USGIF also had tabletop exhibits at Esri’s Education GIS Conference and Academic GIS Program Fair.

Dr. Camelia Kantor, USGIF’s new director of academic programs, represented the Foundation for the first time at the Esri Education GIS Conference.

“The Esri Education GIS Conference was a success in bringing together academia, K-12, and industry in a laudable effort in which Esri re-emphasized the value of geospatial education in the U.S. and abroad,” Kantor said. “‘The Science of Where’ ought to be learned from early ages and leveraged through continuing education into adulthood. USGIF and Esri have a similar educational mission of empowering people of all ages to think spatially and to use geospatial technologies in decision-making. During the conference, both organizations discussed ways to leverage the existent partnership in helping create a pipeline of students with a strong foundation in GIS and analysis as well as in remote sensing and geospatial data management.”

In addition, USGIF offered its Universal GEOINT Certification Program exams to Esri UC attendees at a discounted rate. The certification program helps further an individual’s professional development in the GEOINT Community and includes exams in GIS and analysis tools, remote sensing and imagery analysis, and geospatial data management.

Main Photo Credit: Esri

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A Curriculum Refresh Thu, 13 Jul 2017 16:16:05 +0000 Northeastern University updates geospatial master’s degree program, launches new concentration

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Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies has re-launched its USGIF-accredited master’s degree program in geographic information technology. The new program—now named Geospatial Services—boasts an updated curriculum that more closely aligns with the revolutionary changes the geospatial field has experienced in the last five years.

The two-year program in Geospatial Services is currently offered online, and educates students on state-of-the-art tools and techniques used in a wide variety of applied geospatial disciplines such as defense, GEOINT, public health, environmental science, and urban planning.

The revamped program includes concentrations in geographic information systems, remote sensing, and—as of July 10—geospatial analytics. The addition of a concentration in quantitative analysis gives students more options in course selection and the ability to gain workforce skills in data mining, big data analysis, and dashboard or scoreboard visualizations.

“Citizens, consumers, and workers function as geo-natives, many using push-button variations of these technologies as part of everyday life,”said Dr. Cordula Robinson, Northeastern’s director of geospatial services. “This program is a way for people to glimpse behind the curtain and become familiar with how things work and how to make things happen.”

In addition to USGIF accreditation, the Geospatial Services program is also recognized as an NGA-USGS Academic Center of Excellence in Geospatial Sciences.

Photo Credit: Northeastern University

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Using AI to Aid GEOINT Analysis Thu, 13 Jul 2017 02:49:34 +0000 How NASIC applies AI & ML to process OPIR data

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Editor’s Note: Dr. Jeffrey D. Clark is chief scientist of intelligent systems and machine learning research at Riverside Research and an OPIR artificial intelligence and machine learning subject matter expert. Riverside Research is actively involved with USGIF’s Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence Working Group. Guest posts are intended to foster discussion, and do not represent the official position of USGIF or trajectory magazine.

GEOINT analysts have stated their desire for innovation in the process of generating geospatial intelligence. For example, the National System for Geospatial Intelligence Strategic Concept of Operations (CONOPS) for 2015 provides guidance for using intelligent machine learning (ML) algorithms to aid the GEOINT analyst. The CONOPS lists “tool-assisted information generation” and “fully automated information generation” as key elements of GEOINT analytic information generation. It also talks about “augmenting analytic capabilities through artificial intelligence (AI) and knowledge processes (cognitive/rule-based inferencing, link analysis, pattern identification).”

Along the same lines, the National Air and Space Intelligence Center’s (NASIC) strategic plan for 2023 states, “We will pursue new ideas, innovative processes, and groundbreaking research to create and deliver intelligence more effectively and efficiently.”

The team of scientists, engineers, and analysts that works with overhead persistent infrared (OPIR) data in NASIC’s Geospatial Persistent Infrared Analysis Squadron heeded that directive and began incorporating ML/AI algorithms into the tool set they use to produce Intelligence Community mission-essential products. Incorporating those algorithms provided more accurate detects and tracks, produced faster and more efficient processes, and allowed for some processes to be automated.

There are many examples of ML and neural network algorithms that have been and are being applied at NASIC: principal component analysis, linear discriminant analysis, support vector machines, self-organizing maps, and artificial neural networks (ANNs). These algorithms have been incorporated to help with change detection, target detection, feature selection, object clustering, tracking, background suppression, false alarm rejection, classification, and other tasks. For example, the NASIC team successfully incorporated an ANN that suppressed false alarms by 31 percent and increased the positive predictive value by more than 15 percent.

Incorporating any of these algorithms into the analytic process also helps to solve a related issue: the ever-increasing big data problem, namely that there is too much information to accurately sort in a timely manner. The amount of data analysts must analyze is continually increasing. In order to catch pertinent information that is of interest to the Intelligence Community, intelligent automation must be in place, and ML/AI provides those tools. The automated processes also have to be fast and accurate to provide the warfighter with the right information at the right time. The ML/AI tools NASIC is leveraging free up analysts’ time, allowing them to focus on producing an accurate and detailed report for the IC mission. Another advantage of the ML/AI algorithms is their ability to “see” events that can be missed by the human eye. In essence, these algorithms perform triage as the first step in alleviating the big data problem.

The ML/AI algorithms that support the OPIR mission at NASIC are still in the research and development phase and were developed in conjunction with advisory and assistance services support from Riverside Research, which has also prototyped several advanced neural networks. Those prototypes proved the neural networks’ utility in working with OPIR data. Riverside Research helped guide and oversee NASIC’s incorporation of these algorithms and techniques through direct contract support and provides expertise to the broader GEOINT community through its Open Innovation Center AI/ML lab.

The NASIC team is now prototyping several advanced neural network/deep learning methods (such as convolutional neural networks and evolutionary algorithms) to demonstrate their ability to advance the OPIR capabilities and mission.

The insertion of AI techniques into GEOINT data processes and products produces more and better intelligence from OPIR data. In the future, we can look forward to highly intelligent machines further advancing our capabilities by fusing multiple intelligence products to produce a synergistic, highly intelligent product for the GEOINT Community.

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Building the GEOINT Pipeline in St. Louis Tue, 11 Jul 2017 18:54:20 +0000 St. Louis Initiative aims to educate, mentor St. Louis youth

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USGIF hosted a breakfast June 7 at the GEOINT 2017 Symposium for about 20 government and industry leaders with an interest in building a professional development pipeline and GEOINT workforce in the greater St. Louis area.

The St. Louis Initiative, which USGIF launched in March, addresses the city’s innovation boom and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s (NGA) soon-to-be-built new western campus in north St. Louis.

Developing a stronger GEOINT Community in St. Louis will take time and energy, said USGIF Vice President of Professional Development Dr. Darryl Murdock, who led the meeting and encouraged stakeholders to share their thoughts about the initiative.

“This is the first of many open conversations,” he said. “You all voted with your feet by showing up here.”

NGA’s new campus, called the Next NGA West (N2W), will be built on 99 acres and replace the existing facility that sits on 22 acres just four miles south. The Army Corps of Engineers plans to break ground in 2018, and NGA expects to move into the facility in 2022. The location is close to the St. Louis startup scene, incubators, universities, and industry counterparts. But NGA is already beginning to plan for its future workforce, starting with kindergarteners.

“We saw an opportunity to scale what we had going on for decades,” said Bill Caniano, NGA’s director of corporate communications, in reference to K-12 outreach. Among the agency’s K-12 goals: improve geographic literacy, introduce new ways of discovering STEM, and incorporate geospatial sciences into curriculum.

Stakeholders at the breakfast talked about ways to build trust in the community, such as setting up mentorships between GEOINT professionals and students, bringing guest speakers into classrooms, and working with local colleges and universities. They also said it will be important to focus well beyond the new campus, considering outreach opportunities throughout the city and county. St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is already supportive of the initiative’s goals; the next step is to build relationships with other community leaders such as council members and church leaders.

A handful of participants who have lived in St. Louis for more than 20 years said the initiative should focus on long-term relationship building. The consensus was that trust of the federal government has decreased in St. Louis, and thoughtful, long-term investment would be most effective. Whether children end up joining the GEOINT workforce, the initiative has the potential to provide them with new skills that would benefit the region in countless ways.

By the end of the meeting, participants were discussing the idea of forming a USGIF Working Group in St. Louis to continue the conversation. About half a dozen people volunteered to sit on a steering committee. Several people recounted seeing students in St. Louis excited about technology such as UAVs, and were enthusiastic about doing more to introduce kids to GEOINT.

“We all know exposure to science and technology at an early age creates a whole new set of thought patterns,” Murdock said.

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