Trajectory Magazine We are the official publication of the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) – the nonprofit, educational organization supporting the geospatial intelligence tradecraft Fri, 15 Dec 2017 20:36:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Trajectory Magazine 32 32 127732085 The DigitalGlobe Foundation Celebrates 10 Years Fri, 15 Dec 2017 17:50:43 +0000 A look at some of the globally meaningful work the foundation has made possible

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The DigitalGlobe Foundation (DGF), an educational nonprofit established by commercial satellite imagery provider DigitalGlobe, celebrates its tenth anniversary this year. To promote globally significant research and prepare the next generation of geospatial professionals, DGF awards grants to students and scientists in the form of free access to the company’s imagery, training, and other space-based technology.

DGF founder Mark Brender saw the need in 2007 to ramp up workforce development in preparation for the industry’s imminent growth.

“We needed a way to open our aperture, to bring new ideas and people into geospatial sciences and the commercial remote sensing imagery ecosystem,” Brender said. “The best way to do that was to establish a foundation that can put high-resolution imagery into the hands of students so they can experiment with it, understand it, and eventually become geospatial users.”

To date, DGF has awarded more than 3,000 imagery grants valued at more than $14 million to students and researchers around the world. Such fieldwork has explored changes in topography over time, human and wildlife population sustainability, and historic site identification.

Students at USGIF-accredited GEOINT programs are often the recipients of such grants. 

Our partnership with DGF provides unique opportunities for USGIF’s 14 accredited college and university programs,” said USGIF CEO Keith Masback, who is also a member of DGF’s board of directors. “With this access they are able to expand their ability to conduct research and advance the GEOINT tradecraft.” 

In addition to research support, DGF also offers scholarships to select partner schools, including $5,000 annual awards to students at George Mason University and the University of Colorado.

To encourage more global-scale problem-solving from promising geospatial scientists, DGF is gradually expanding its scope beyond awarding imagery grants for specific research projects. Since March, DGF President Kumar Navulur has led the foundation toward investments in three main areas:

  • Leveraging machine learning and spectral analysis to extract insights from data.
  • Promoting the study of foundational sciences where the current global capacity is sub-par, specifically photogrammetry and physics.
  • Creating a cooperative network of research-focused universities.

According to Navulur, DGF has also expanded its reach from just a few universities outside the U.S. to a wider distribution of 50 universities in 20 countries. Additionally, DGF has established a relationship with the African Association of Remote Sensing of the Environment, which consists of about 50 more universities.

The foundation hopes increased support will push young geospatial professionals to seek tangible solutions to major environmental problems.

“I would love for universities to look at how to use imagery to document the quantifiable progress of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals,” Navulur said.

In years to come, DGF partners and grant recipients will benefit from new access to cloud-penetrable radar data from Maxar Technologies, DigitalGlobe’s new parent organization. Additionally, case-specific imagery grants will be supplemented with access to the company’s global base map, DigitalGlobe Cloud Services.

“We are ensuring students have the skills to develop location-based technologies like the Internet of Things and remote sensing,” Navulur said. “Not only will they get jobs, they’ll make a difference in the world.”

Following are case studies featuring seven DGF grant recipients who are already making a difference:

Egyptian Looting

DGF granted three high-resolution images to University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Dr. Sarah Parcak to help measure archaeological looting in Egypt. Illegal digging reports were growing in the Saqqara and Dashur regions south of Cairo. Up-to-date data was not immediately available, so official theft measurements for the area were highly inaccurate until Parcak received access to GeoEye imagery via DGF.

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DigitalGlobe Foundation – Sarah Parcak / Girls Inc. from Trajectory On Location on Vimeo.

Surveying Nomadic Health

In one of its first grants, DGF released imagery to Stanford researcher Hannah Binzen Wild for her analysis of health in nomadic pastoral populations in Mongolia. Wild used the data to locate mobile settlements quickly enough to develop and deliver surveys to 350 people in Southern Ethiopia. She’s now back at Stanford studying the imagery to determine average settlement size and the number of individual huts per settlement.

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Tracking Gold

Michael Armand Canilao, an archaeologist and University of Illinois in Chicago graduate student, received an imagery grant from DGF supporting his research on ancient gold trading routes in the Philippines. DGF released four sharpened WorldView-2 multispectral images each displaying 1,000 square-foot tiles in northwest Luzon. The imagery enabled a closer look at the trails and, according to Canilao, made clear “how small-scale gold miners were able to negotiate, and, in some cases dictate, the terms of their participation in Early Historical Period maritime gold trade.”

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Mapping the Magan Peninsula

New York University doctoral candidate Eli Dollarhide sought to uncover the true historic landscape of Magan, an ancient peninsula in Oman with an uncertain political past. DGF granted Dollarhide access to Worldview-2 and -3 imagery of the land between Bronze Age settlements Bat and Amlah. This imagery helped Dollarhide’s team determine where to spend their limited time in the field and enabled the discovery of prehistoric tombs, petroglyphs, and roughly 450 other previously undocumented archaeological sites.

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Satellites Over Seals

University of Minnesota researcher Michella LaRue and her team used imagery provided by DGF to determine factors affecting the population variation and distribution of Weddell Seals along the Antarctic coast. Both commercial fishing and the melting of ice caused by climate change have affected the ice-dependent species. The project aims to determine what environmental conditions the seals require to survive. “We literally couldn’t do this research without [this imagery],” LaRue said. She manually scoured the imagery to count seals, and compared her findings to modern, ground-validated counts as well as counts from the 1960s.

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Erosion in the Yukon

It is theorized that slight increases in temperature caused the recent disappearance of the glacial Slims River in the Yukon. Dan Shugar, a researcher and professor at the University of Washington, Tacoma, was awarded WorldView-1, WorldView-2, and GeoEye-1 imagery by DGF to create 3D maps of the region. This enabled him to observe erosion processes in the Slims and Kaskawulsh rivers. Some imagery is being converted into a series of multi-temporal digital elevation models (DEMs) to visualize the hydrological system underground in search of changes that would affect glacial drainage. Shugar called these DEMs “a game changer.” DGF is continuing to work with Shugar on new tasking for stereo and multi-spectral images to detect changes in Kluane National Park.

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Valley of the Khans

DGF helped researchers from the University of California San Diego, the Mongolian Academy of Science, and the National Geographic Society in their quest to locate the final resting place of Genghis Khan. In one of its first grants, DGF provided Albert Yu-Min Lin and his team with imagery of multiple areas over Mongolia. The researchers are leveraging the power of the crowd and enlisting the general public to help study the satellite imagery and identify features of interest. The aim is to find Khan’s tomb using non-invasive tools and enable protective conservation methods at the historic site.

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Images courtesy of DigitalGlobe and the individual DGF grant recipients.

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Rediscovering Afghanistan Fri, 15 Dec 2017 16:46:53 +0000 Using satellite imagery to uncover Afghanistan’s lost settlements

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In Afghanistan, persistent civil war and the presence of militarized extremist groups means geographic fieldwork of any kind can be dangerous and difficult, especially for western researchers. Science reports Afghan and American archaeologists from the University of Chicago are bypassing danger by using commercial and federal satellite data and drone imagery supplied by the U.S. State Department. The archeologists are combing industry of Afghanistan’s sprawling southern deserts in an effort to identify ancient Silk Road routes and to help preserve Afghan cultural heritage.

Among the most striking discoveries is a series of 119 enormous “caravanserai,” or mud-brick complexes built to provide shelter to traders and merchants (and their livestock) arriving with spices from India or porcelain and fish from China. These structures appear roughly every 20 kilometers, marking each day’s travel between Isfahan, the former capital of the Safavid Dynasty (now Iran), and the powerful Mughal Empire that dominated much of the Indian subcontinent in the 16 and 17th centuries.

Near the Balkh Oasis in North Afghanistan, the researchers used high-resolution imagery to detect slight topographic changes that revealed the existence of hundreds of settlements built along the Balkhab River. The team has discovered 1,000 colonies, suggesting the region was more densely populated than previously thought. The geographic orientation of these settlements and the caravanserai will help outline the true nervous system of the Silk Roads.

The satellite data also revealed canal networks that likely fueled agriculture for thousands of years, as well as a diverse array of religious temples.

These discoveries will help such sites be properly protected and preserved to canonize the region’s history. To eliminate the risk of their destruction during infrastructural development and mining, the University of Chicago team is overseeing construction of a central GIS for the Afghan Institute of Archaeology in Kabul and Kabul Polytechnic University. The system will focus on site management and could guide future expeditions.

Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe

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Weekly GEOINT Community News Mon, 11 Dec 2017 17:32:56 +0000 SpaceFlight to Launch 11 Satellites in January; Boundless and Monsanto Partner to Support Open Source Community; Avenza Maps Launches in GEOINT App Store; More

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SpaceFlight to Launch 11 Satellites in January

Rideshare service provider SpaceFlight announced the launch of 11 spacecraft from India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle is planned for early January. Systems to be launched include Finland’s ICEYE-X1 SAR microsatellite, four Spire Global Lemur-2 cubesats, Astro Digital’s Landmapper-BC3, AMSAT’s Fox-1D cubesat, and others. The cubesat integration is already complete and the cargo is currently en route to India where it will await takeoff.

Boundless and Monsanto Partner to Support Open Source Community

Boundless and agriculture company Monsanto announced a partnership to contribute code to the Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G) community. Among the contributions are: an OAuth Plugin that enables QuantumGIS users to determine what data on the system is accessible to the user; a CKAN plugin for QuantumGIS; and a Geoserver XAuth plugin. These codes will help establish smoother authentication systems and provide easier access to data for open-source users.

General Dynamics Awarded U.S. Air Force Operations Contract

General Dynamics Information Technology won the U.S. Air Force Distributed Mission Operations Center contract for infrastructure, development, and engineering support at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M. The ID/IQ contract is valued at $47 million, and enlists General Dynamics to develop and maintain simulation software and hardware, build network infrastructure, and integrate a live, virtual combat environment for warfighter training.

CACI Wins Army Airborne C4ISR Task Order

CACI International was awarded a $91 million task order to support the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center’s flight activity, primarily focusing on surveillance and communications. CACI will provide systems integration, training support, and electronic and mechanical engineering design services. The company will also test new technologies in areas such as radio frequency, electro-optical, thermal, radar, and acoustic systems.

Avenza Maps Launches in GEOINT App Store

Avenza Systems has partnered with NGA to bring its Avenza Maps offline mapping application to the GEOINT App Store for download by defense and intelligence community users. The app allows users to import and access proprietary or classified maps, and includes unlimited access to the Avenza Map Store’s existing repository of digital maps. User-owned maps can be uploaded to the store for sale at the user’s discretion.

Northrop Grumman Retains Army Logistics Contract

Northrop Grumman will retain its nine-year, $750 million Army logistics services contract for support of aircraft used in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. The defense contractor will be responsible for program management, systems engineering, supply chain management, and aircraft modifications and upgrades to 75 ISR aircraft.

Photo Credit: Northrop Grumman

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Digitizing the Mind Fri, 08 Dec 2017 17:03:42 +0000 Merging biological and artificial intelligence

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The human brain is a frustrating paradox for scientists and researchers. Solving the mysteries of the brain could help quantify abstract concepts such as language, memory, and imagination. Its neural activity could be modified to make people learn faster and think quicker. Better understanding the brain could also help develop treatments for neurodegenerative diseases and unlock the secrets of consciousness. But the organ’s complexity is baffling. Humans have barely begun to discover the potential that exists within the brain, and it may take decades before significant, applicable breakthroughs are made.

A forward-thinking population of the tech community is working toward those breakthroughs using neuroprosthetic devices and brain-sensor interfaces, essentially digitizing the electric signals that bounce among neurons as the brain operates.

A recent Wired article tells the story of entrepreneur Bryan Johnson, who is using neural wiring to capture the brain activity that triggers memories. Johnson owns an algorithm capable of recording and translating neural signals into code that can be enhanced or altered and sent back to the brain—like Photoshop for a person’s memory.

Though his focus on memory is unique, Johnson isn’t alone in his pursuit. Mark Zuckerberg and a team from Facebook are developing a non-invasive, speech-to-text interface using optical imaging to type words as the user thinks them. The federal government has taken an interest in this trend as well, and is on the front lines of research and development. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Biological Technologies Office has created a direct neural interface for movement and sensation that is capable of restoring function for people who’ve lost the ability to feel or move a limb, for example.

The artificial intelligence (AI) community is now leveraging this type of research with the goal of harnessing the human brain’s propensity for logical and critical thinking, emotion, and creativity. SpaceX founder Elon Musk has invested heavily in Neuralink, a brain implant company hoping to improve brain function by using “neural lace” to merge human consciousness with software and AI. Google’s DeepMind initiative has created an artificial neural network that uses rational reasoning to make decisions and solve puzzles.

While the common trope pits man against machine, the future landscape of intelligence seems better poised for cooperation than competition.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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The AI Arms Race Wed, 06 Dec 2017 16:03:00 +0000 NGA’s Dr. Anthony Vinci speaks at USGIF GEOINTeraction Tuesday

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The United States, China, and Russia are “in an arms race for artificial intelligence” (AI), according to Dr. Anthony Vinci, director of plans and programs for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

Vinci discussed the importance of preparing for the future in front of a crowd of more than 100 people Nov. 14 at USGIF’s GEOINTeraction Tuesday event, hosted by OGSystems in Chantilly, Va.

Vinci pointed to recent reports in which Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed the leader in AI would be “the ruler of the world.” Meanwhile, he said, China is planning to turn AI into a $150 billion industry by 2030.

“There are these real threats, and they’re not necessarily just the ones we’ve grown used to since 9/11,” Vinci said, emphasizing the importance of dialogue about the future among NGA, the broader Intelligence Community (IC), industry, academia, and organizations such as USGIF.

“There’s a real possibility the U.S. could become second best—that we could lose some of these arms races,” he said. “We have all grown up in a world in which, by far, the U.S. was the dominant GEOINT capability, even before it was called GEOINT. We can’t even imagine a world in which we aren’t, but it’s a possibility, and we need to confront that possibility and ensure it doesn’t happen. We need to remain dominant.”

A graphic visualization of Dr. Vinci’s speech, produced by graphic recorders from OGSystems’ Visioneering team. Click to view full size. Credit: OGSystems

Vinci outlined emerging technologies with the potential to help the U.S. maintain intelligence dominance:

Commercial space: Vinci described the commercial space boom as a “complete game changer” as it opens up the use of new sensors. He also noted the rate at which the technology is advancing, citing a U.K. company that touts real-time, full-motion video from space.

The Internet of Things (IoT): The sheer numbers represent the significance of this technology, Vinci said. According to Gartner, there were 8.4 billion connected things last year, and that number is expected to reach 20.4 billion by 2020. By 2025, the IoT is expected to generate two trillion gigabytes of data per year. “Everything changes for us when we start to talk about that,” Vinci said.

Autonomous Vehicles: “What was one science fiction is now just a reality in our lives and within a few years will be everywhere—and not just in the U.S.,” Vinci said. He added that of particular interest to the GEOINT Community is the fact that all autonomous vehicles are sensors equipped with cameras and LiDAR—and of course the maps that will be needed for the vehicles to navigate. “Commercial industry will go out and map urban areas and well-developed areas,” he said. “But they’re probably not going to map dirt roads in Helmand Province any time soon, and so we need to start thinking about those things.”

Vinci said it’s important the IC confront not just how it will take advantage of these new technologies, but also how adversaries might leverage them.

“We have to prepare for a world where a country like China might try to dominate AI, where terrorists have UAVs and other autonomous vehicles they can use for attacks, where Russia might use IoT devices or other things for spying in our country, and where lots of countries and even non-state actors have access to space,” Vinci said.

In some cases, he added, these things are already happening.

Vinci concluded with a quote from writer William Gibson: “The future is already here—it’s just not evenly distributed.”

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Weekly GEOINT Community News Mon, 04 Dec 2017 18:33:29 +0000 DigitalGlobe Expands Partnership with AWS; Esri to Donate Software Licenses to Volunteers; General Dynamics Wins U.S. Army Contract; More

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Riverside Research Awarded NASIC Contract

Nonprofit Riverside Research won NASIC’s Advisory and Assistance Services, Geospatial and Signatures Intelligence contract. Riverside Research will provide the intelligence center with geospatial research and development, system acquisition assistance, and facilitation of outreach to the DoD and IC. The five-year, single-award contract is valued at $99 million and enables the nonprofit to continue a 15-year history of support to NASIC.

DigitalGlobe Expands Partnership with AWS

DigitalGlobe is now “all in” on its partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), adopting the platform as its primary storage and analytics infrastructure. The company migrated its entire data library to AWS, providing customers instant access to more than 100 petabytes of imagery. DigitalGlobe is also leveraging the AWS machine learning suite (including new SageMaker algorithms) to build and train an intelligent database capable of predicting customers’ imagery requests based on past usage patterns.

Esri Signs Enterprise Agreement with Airbus

Esri recently entered into a global enterprise agreement with Airbus Defence and Space. The agreement will provide Airbus with spatial analytics through the ArcGIS platform, reducing costs and increasing speed to market for the company’s geographic information systems.

Esri to Donate Software Licenses to Volunteers

Esri will donate personal use licenses for its ArcGIS software to every URISA GISCorps volunteer who has taken a GIS Service Pledge to help support a good cause. Licenses, commercially valued at $6,000, will enable volunteers to address location-based issues of their own choosing. The donations will extend to recent disaster response teams including those working to assist the relief efforts following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.

General Dynamics Wins U.S. Army Contract

General Dynamics Information Technology was awarded the Mission Training Complex Capabilities Support contract by the U.S. Army. The IDIQ contract, valued as high as $975 million, enlists General Dynamics to supply simulation and live training support as well as logistical and administrative services to designated Army training complexes.

Octo Consulting Wins CMS Contract

Octo Consulting Group was awarded a $20 million blanket purchase agreement to support the adoption of agile methodologies at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Octo has already developed an agile training course and helped launch a center for enterprise agility at CMS, and will continue its support with hands-on agile coaching and policy transformation. The consulting firm previously helped implement agency-wide agile practices at the U.S. Patent and Trade Office, the Center for Disease Control, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

Peer Intel

OGSystems announced today the appointment of Peter LaMontagne, former CEO of Novetta, to its Board of Directors effective immediately. LaMontagne joins the four additional board members in advising OGSystems leadership in recruitment, investment, and employee development.

Photo Credit: Esri

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Self-Starting Artificial Intelligence Fri, 01 Dec 2017 17:26:37 +0000 AI algorithms learn to build and refine new algorithms

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Artificial intelligence (AI) experts are both rare and valuable in today’s tech marketplace. Montreal-based Element AI reports fewer than 10,000 people in the world have the specialized skills required to build and teach complex, intelligent algorithms. According to the New York Times, Google, Facebook, and other massive firms offer unbeatable salaries, typically between $300,000 and $500,000, to those individuals, essentially cornering off the professional market from other emerging players in the AI space.

This talent shortage has led firms to look elsewhere to satiate the immediate demand for AI developers. Leading researchers have found automation may be the key to advancing AI capabilities despite the lack of human expertise: intelligent machines creating new intelligent machines.

In training machine learning programs, researchers flood an algorithm with relevant data to test, for example, how well it can recognize and identify certain objects or how accurately it can translate between languages. Based on the algorithm’s performance, researchers will alter the code until the desired level of accuracy is achieved. It now appears this task could soon be outsourced to machines.

Industry and academia’s most advanced AI efforts are creating algorithms capable of analyzing the development of other algorithms, learning how to recognize success and failure, and eventually making corrections to improve the software’s intuition. Google’s AutoML learning software has reportedly created object identification algorithms with higher rates of accuracy than those built by human experts. Researchers at MIT, UC Berkeley, nonprofit OpenAI, and Google’s DeepMind have also reported progress in the field.

If this “meta-learning” technology becomes more practical and accessible, AI could experience more rapid adoption in fields such as health care, transportation, and finance, where current capabilities are too expensive and unreliable.

Photo Credit: AILabs

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Weekly GEOINT Community News Mon, 27 Nov 2017 20:44:45 +0000 Congress Introduces Geospatial Data Act; IceEye to Provide Airborne Imagery to DoD; CA Technologies Issues Smart Government Challenge; More

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Congress Introduces Geospatial Data Act

Congress introduced federal legislation that aims to fill decades-old gaps in the governance of geospatial systems and technology. The Geospatial Data Act’s two bills, SB2128 and HR4395, would mandate the congressional oversight of the federal government’s spending on geospatial programs, encourage collaboration between agencies, and ensure public and commercial access to geospatial data through GeoPlatform. 

IceEye to Provide Airborne Imagery to DoD

Finnish imagery startup IceEye announced it will supply the U.S. DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) unit with Earth imaging services through a new U.S. subsidiary. For now, the partnership will primarily entail the airborne collection of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data capable of persisting through clouds and inclement weather. Additionally, IceEye continues to develop SAR microsatellites, targeting a proof-of-concept launch before the end of 2017.

CA Technologies Issues Smart Government Challenge

CA Technologies announced its Smart Government Challenge, an open call for developers to submit innovative ideas for the U.S. government to use open-source software to improve the “citizen experience.” Such solutions may incorporate remote sensing into public transport systems or data banks. Up to five finalists will win $5,000 and the chance to compete for a $75,000 grand prize as well as an immersive training boot camp. Applications will be accepted through the end of December.

Airbus to Produce Digital Maps for French Defense Procurement Agency

Airbus and its four partners won a 10-year Sysnav contract to produce digital mapping components of an information system for the French Defense Procurement Agency. Called SI Geode4D, the system will be an active, one-stop portal for geography, ocean, and weather data and will enable a common operating picture throughout the Ministry of Defense.

Presagis Selects Tech Providers for GIS Data Management & Visualization

Presagis announced the selection of Esri, Vricon, and LuxCarta as technology providers for new GIS data management and visualization offerings. Presagis will leverage Esri’s CityEngine, LuxCarta’s terrain modeling, and Vricon’s point clouds and imagery to transform data into various training environments. The resulting data representations will be more realistic, responsive, and accessible.

Dewberry Hiring GEOINT Professionals

Dewberry is hiring geospatial practitioners in support of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s Multi-Intelligence Analytical and Collection Support Services and Janus geographic content management programs. Individuals with GEOINT production experience and security clearance are in demand. View current openings.

Photo Credit: IceEye

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Weekly GEOINT Community News Mon, 20 Nov 2017 17:53:36 +0000 Radiant Solutions Announces Plan of Operations; General Atomics Acquires Surrey Satellite Technology U.S.; Planet Imagery Made Available in SpyMeSat App; USGS Publishes Global Crop Map; & More

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Radiant Solutions Announces Plan of Operations

Maxar Technologies’ geospatial business unit Radiant Solutions will combine former service brands RadiantBlue, HumanGeo, MDA Information Systems, and DigitalGlobe Intelligence Solutions into one commercial provider. The business will be organized into three missions: sensor and ground modernization; data to insight; and agile intelligence. This convergence of data-gathering sensors, cloud computing, open source, big data, and machine learning will offer customers a strong and thorough way to uphold national security missions.

General Atomics Acquires Surrey Satellite Technology U.S.

General Atomics acquired the majority of the assets of Surrey Satellite Technology U.S., a Colorado-based provider of small satellite technologies, systems, and services. The assets and workforce will be integrated into General Atomics’ Electromagnetic Systems Group to support the organization’s growth initiatives focused on the development and delivery of small satellite and advanced payload systems.

Planet Imagery Made Available in SpyMeSat App

Planet reached an agreement with Orbit Logic, allowing users of Orbit Logic’s SpyMeSat mobile app to access Planet’s daily satellite imagery. SpyMeSat provides on-demand access to recently archived imagery and the ability to request tasking over specific areas. Planet images available in the app cover 625 square kilometers at 3.7-meter resolution and cost less than $1.30 per square kilometer, while new tasking options begin at $375.

Esri Partners with Mobileye on Driver Assistance

Esri announced a collaboration with Intel’s Mobileye, a provider of driver-assistance software, to integrate Esri’s analysis and visualization capabilities with Mobileye’s Shield+ system. A network of sensors placed on the vehicle will record real-time data like pedestrian or cyclist detection in blind spots—that data will be uploaded into Esri’s ArcGIS platform and viewed on the Mobileye dashboard. Municipal buses and other public transport will be outfitted with this technology, making for safer commutes and communities.

USGS Publishes Global Crop Map

The United States Geological Survey released a new high-resolution map of croplands around the world. The map identifies 1.87 billion total hectares of farmland—India has the highest net cropland area, followed by the U.S., China, and Russia. The map was built using Landsat imagery at 30-meter resolution, the highest quality of any global agricultural dataset.

Loft Orbital Raises Funding for Condo Constellation

Loft Orbital has raised $3.2 million in seed funding to create a constellation of satellites carrying multiple payloads from different customers. Spacecraft would weigh between 100 and 200kg to keep launch prices low enough to dissuade customers from purchasing and operating satellites of their own. Loft will manage the satellite procurement, launch, operations, and downlinking data, while customers will task their own payloads. Loft is targeting a first mission for the second half of 2019.

Boundless Rebrands GIS Software

Boundless announced the rebranding of its flagship GIS software from Boundless Suite to Boundless Server. The new enterprise package will feature enhanced styling and increased compatibility with Esri’s ArcGIS. The software’s flexible architecture allows users to manage and publish location data with ease.

Luciad Launches Data Management Software Updates

Luciad announced the new V2017.1 version of its software suite, particularly the LuciadFusion data management platform. Luciad refers to the suite as a one-minute data manager—it can complete setups, publishing, visuals, discovery, and analytics in 60 seconds each.

Pitney Bowes Launches Collaborative Online GIS Community

Pitney Bowes launched its Li360 Community, a global online population of GIS professionals, clients, and customers collaborating on business tools and capabilities. The community serves as a way to promote innovation from geospatial industry as companies realize the benefits of location intelligence and begin using it to drive sales.

ODNI Re-launches

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced the re-launch of, a central website for the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). The move is rooted in a community-wide effort to standardize transparency about the IC’s activities. Users can parse through public data, documents, and products, and can link to other resources such as the websites of specific intelligence agencies.

Photo Credit: USGS

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What are Your 3 Words? Fri, 17 Nov 2017 18:47:46 +0000 What3words assigns three-word identifiers to every location on Earth

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The global address system is imperfect. Road names are often repeated or similar within municipalities, leading to botched deliveries, confusing navigation, and wasted time. Street addresses only cover developed areas with established infrastructure. Geographic coordinates are precise but too complicated for everyday use.

To fix these problems, London-based what3words is simplifying global addresses. The company has divided the entire surface of the world into a geocoding grid of 57 trillion 3-meter-by-3-meter squares, assigning each a unique three-word identifier. This allows more accurate location sharing and product delivery and provides addresses for the billions of people living in developing neighborhoods without defined street names.

To encourage the use of their system around the world, what3words has translated the map grid into 14 languages such as French, Arabic, and Swahili, with more to come including Hindi and Zulu.

The system’s benefits are numerous. To date, the national post services of Nigeria, Djibouti, Côte D’Ivoire, and Mongolia have adopted the what3words system and begun delivering goods and mail to many residential locations for the first time. South African cities like Durban are using it to properly direct emergency responders. The United Nations is using it to geotag imagery as a common operating picture for disaster recovery efforts in remote locations. The system could even break into personal navigation. Mercedes announced it will incorporate what3words addresses into the voice-activated satellite GPS for next generation vehicles.

For areas without thorough building numbering or street addresses, embracing what3words could improve city planning, enable efficient business, and help people define their homes.

Photo Credit: what3words

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