Advancing GEOINT Tradecraft

USGIF hosts series of professional development discussions

By Lindsay Tilton Mitchell

Oct. 29, 2014

USGIF hosted a series of events over three days in October, inviting GEOINT professionals to collaborate on a variety of the Foundation’s professional development initiatives.

From Monday, Oct. 6, through Wednesday, Oct. 8, USGIF gathered more than 60 individuals from academia, government, and industry to discuss accreditation, credentialing, and the state of GEOINT – the critical professional development and tradecraft issues affecting the community.

Academic Accreditation

On Monday, Oct. 6, the Foundation focused on the USGIF collegiate accreditation program. Representatives from USGIF’s nine accredited colleges and universities discussed each school’s successes and challenges within the program. Additionally, three schools under review for accreditation also attended to learn from the accredited schools.

This marked the first time USGIF gathered representatives from all of its accredited colleges and universities.

“The academic participants were able to socialize and learn about each other’s strengths and challenges,” said Dr. Max Baber, USGIF’s director of academic programs. “They saw they were not on their own island, but their challenges were actually quite common. USGIF learned what the schools’ challenges were and how to more effectively support them.”

USGIF plans to host this meeting annually as a way to strengthen the dialogue among universities offering GEOINT curricula.

“The meeting was very beneficial,” said George Hepner, geography professor and director of the geospatial intelligence certificate program at the University of Utah, one of USGIF’s accredited programs. “I learned what other [universities] are doing regarding program initiatives, course content, and online delivery. I had discussions on possible research between universities that would only have happened in face-to-face meetings.”

State of GEOINT

On Tuesday, Oct. 7, more than 50 subject matter experts from across the GEOINT Community came together to lay the foundation for an annual USGIF “State of GEOINT” report. The inaugural report will compile thought leadership and guidance on GEOINT topics that are “hot,” “not,” and “on the horizon.”

Members from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, Department of Homeland Security, the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), GIS Certification Institute (GISCI), USGIF-accredited colleges and universities, industry members, and more, broke into groups to discuss and generate content for the report. Themes included human geography and geotagging as “hot”, paper mapping as “not”, and mobile data and data immersion as “on the horizon.”

“It was great to hear similar themes coming out of each group,” said Dr. Darryl Murdock, USGIF’s vice president of professional development. “It was especially beneficial for representatives from government agencies to interact and hear what other agencies are doing in terms of GEOINT. This sharing indicates we have met the mark in terms of adhering to USGIF’s three pillars: ‘Build the Community, Advance the Tradecraft, Accelerate Innovation’—it’s events like these where those pillars come to life.”

Participant-written articles from the day’s discussion will be published in the 2015 State of GEOINT report and distributed with the first quarter issue of USGIF’s trajectory magazine. It will also be available at USGIF events, including the GEOINT 2015 Symposium in June, and in PDF format via The Foundation plans to annually host a State of GEOINT session to generate a comprehensive report.

The Future of GEOINT Credentialing

USGIF concluded the series of events with a discussion Wednesday, Oct. 8, focused around the Foundation’s plan to create a Universal GEOINT Credentialing Program in the context of other geospatial organizations certifications and credentialing efforts. Over the past three years, USGIF has reached out to the broader geospatial community for input. This was the second multi-organization forum hosted by the Foundation, the first of which was held during the GEOINT 2013* Symposium.

For this forum, representatives from ASPRS and GISCI, several geospatial-focused organizations, and some USGIF accredited academic programs convened at USGIF headquarters to explore lessons learned, best practices, and how USGIF’s efforts might be integrated with existing geospatial certification processes.

“From the discussion, we need a unified system for credentials,” said Bob Austin, chairman of the National Geospatial Advisory Council. “We have multiple organizations standing up programs, but they are not integrated. Everyone can benefit from one harmonized program.”

USGIF plans to continue meeting with organizations that have existing credentialing programs as the Foundation develops its credentialing program.

“These three days allowed participants a wide variety of insights into the breadth and depth of the GEOINT profession,” Murdock said. “We will all become more successful by leveraging our collective work and sharing best practices and great ideas. USGIF is committed and excited to continue working with each and every organization whose leadership is dedicated to fostering learning, professional development, and open communications.”


Photo Credit: USGIF