KEYW attributes its success to the company’s community-driven nature. Having been a USGIF Organizational Member since 2007, KEYW is deeply rooted in the GEOINT Community. Now, KEYW aims to change data analysis and collection with three new products: MOSAIC, Aeroptic, and KeyRadar. These products not only demonstrate the company’s end-to-end GEOINT offerings, but also how it is breaking out of the traditional government model by using commercial products for humanitarian and disaster relief purposes.
Trajectory spoke with three KEYW team leads to learn more about these new products and the company’s contributions to the GEOINT Community.
Mark Powers, Deputy Director, Geospatial Program Office
Q. Describe MOSAIC and why it’s important for the GEOINT Community.
A. The tool itself is extremely transformational because it serves as a catalyst between collection and analysis while greatly reducing the “cost of curiosity.” It has a harvest capability that brings in tremendous amounts of data from open sources, such as the Internet and social media, and conditions that data for a quick analytical result. It allows the analyst to get immediate situational awareness or context by processing massive amounts of information they couldn’t normally handle manually—the automation does all the heavy lifting. Analysts can start with a question, get a quick result, refine the question, and do another collection. It’s constantly drilling down to more focused questions and can bring in any kind of data. As those data files are brought in, the process for enhancing the data is different depending on the file type.
Q. What’s an example of how MOSAIC can be used?
MOSAIC is in the pilot phase and has not yet been applied for an operational task. But, for example, let’s say an analyst is trying to figure out what the impact of the Muslim migration toward Europe would have on Muslim or European cultural heritage. One way to answer that question would be to continuously harvest information from a variety of sources such as the Internet and social media to consistently bring back documentation, such as news articles, text, and Twitter feeds to quickly get a sense of the possible impacts.
MOSAIC was designed using a cloud-based, service oriented architecture. Anyone can use any part of our architecture, and the fact that it’s in a commercial cloud environment allows us to be rapidly innovative. Recently, we integrated two other key technologies that created whole new capabilities, and it only took us four days. MOSAIC’s open solution architecture allows KEYW to collaborate with analysts and other specialized capability providers to create something new in a matter of days. More importantly, this approach allows our customers to try a new capability before buying it. If they like it, we can push the entire architecture directly into their enterprise or offer them the ability to use MOSAIC as a pay-as-you-go service, which eliminates the additional cost for infrastructure as new capabilities are incorporated.
Andy Eichelberger, Director of Engineering, Remote Sensing Division
Q. Could you discuss KEYW’s new Aeroptic Mapping System?
In the last two years, we’ve launched the Aeroptic electro-optical mapping system as a commercial product. At its core Aeroptic is a direct georeferencing-based acquisition system and processing chain. We recently showcased it at Trident Spectre 2015. At that exercise, we demonstrated 250 square kilometer-per-hour collection rates at a 7-centimeter resolution, fully processed and provisioned in the cloud in less than 12 hours.
The system allows us to provide a few advantages, one of which is the ability to map in austere environments where you can’t obtain ground control. Another is speed and efficiency. Once it’s calibrated, you can output data on a daily basis very quickly and cheaply while providing GIS-grade data on a rapid response timeline to support emergency operations and disaster response.
Based on this concept, we were recently awarded a commercial contract to support drought management in California. We are auditing the effect various water conservation initiatives have on vegetation health to establish targets for different areas such as counties, water districts, individual parcels, etc. Additionally, we were in South Carolina mapping Hurricane Joaquin and provided data to the National Guard for their emergency response.
Alex Gross, Director of Advanced Programs
Q. What is KEYW’s new KeyRadar product?
The radar is a multi-mission, multi-mode system built on a software-defined radio/radar paradigm. One of our customers calls it a Swiss army knife, because we’ve got a lot of different tools within this one larger system. It enables us to tackle new missions and to change the type of missions and scenarios without having to land and reconfigure — you can do it all in flight.
We have also demonstrated that this flexibility enables us to tackle missions that nobody even knew were problems when the systems were first conceived. To date, this radar technology has been used for purposes as wide ranging as counter-IED, foliage penetration, ice penetration for Arctic ice sheet mapping, building penetration, shoreline and beach erosion, and change detection. We look at that flexibility as a major benefit from the acquisition perspective, because now the community can buy a radar system today that can address tomorrow’s mission.
One of the key capabilities is extremely wide area, fully polarimetric radar data that allows you to see the world in new and different ways. This has value for defense and intelligence, but even non-trained radar analysts can use fully polarimetric radar data to readily discern different land types, land use, and land use change. Polarimetry also provides incredible value for automatic exploitation.
We’re excited to announce the first product sale in the KeyRadar product line to the U.S. Air Force. We are now integrating it into a pod suitable for the MQ-9. We’re incredibly excited about this, because it means we can now support much longer duration flights to provide ISR and direct support to the warfighter. It also means we can tackle a wide variety of missions beyond the defense and intelligence communities, including humanitarian missions and disaster relief. KEYW is doing some amazing work with its Aeroptic EO camera line for extremely high-resolution optical imagery, and this is an all-weather compliment to that.
Q. Does KEYW have any recent news they would like to share?
We just completed our first year on the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Contested Environment RF Exploitation Research (CERFER) program. It’s focused on contested environments for next generation radar research and development. We flew a KEYW-modified aircraft with a next generation KEYW-built radar, operated by KEYW pilots and logistics personnel, and processed and delivered data to the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). This is a great collaboration between AFRL and the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, in which the research lab can develop new technologies and capabilities using the CERFER radar testbed. And because the radar system is a highly flexible “Swiss army knife,” it is really easy to transition a capability developed in the lab out to operational systems in the field, as opposed to having go back to the drawing board to develop new hardware and software.
We’re also particularly proud of how the CERFER testbed brought together multiple divisions within our company and really showcased the breadth and depth of KEYW’s capabilities. We had airborne integration, flight test planning, sensor system development, geospatial processing, exploitation, and dissemination capabilities all brought together for this program. A key strength of our company is the ability to fuse multiple disparate parts into one more powerful capability.
Photo Credit: KEYW