The Internet of Things – 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, 19 Jan 2018 19:39:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Internet of Things – Trajectory Magazine 32 32 127732085 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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Live Cyber-Location Intelligence Thu, 17 Aug 2017 19:25:42 +0000 Mapping global cyber attacks in real time

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The Norse Corporation’s live attack map shows global cyber attacks as they occur.

By 2020 the worldwide number of wirelessly interconnected devices (such as smart home appliances, connected cars, and wearables) is predicted to reach 5.4 billion. While the Internet of Things (IoT) brings unprecedented information into our homes and hands, it also creates a plethora of poorly guarded targets for nefarious actors. The type and scope of modern cyber attacks is wide, and vigilance is necessary to limit damage and to discourage criminal web behavior.

San Francisco-based intelligence firm the Norse Corporation delivers live attack intelligence that helps its customers block attacks, uncover hidden breaches, and track threats emerging around the globe. Norse offers visibility into today’s digital strikes with its live attack map, which features real-time cyber tracking as invasive signals hit Norse’s infrastructure all over the world. The map is an explosive representation of the vulnerability of cyberspace and the prevalence of attacks.

A toolbar at the bottom of the map shows measurable information about live attacks, including attacker and target geo-locations, timestamps, attack types, and attacker identity and IP addresses.

Norse operates by attracting attacks—from both humans and viral malware bots—to its eight million sensors in 50 countries, identifying malicious source IP addresses, and alerting its customers to block those sources. Newsweek reports Norse’s map shows less than one percent of the data Norse receives at any given time.

Cybersecurity and defending against these shadowy attacks was a major discussion point at last week’s Department of Defense Intelligence Information System Worldwide Conference (DoDIIS), where the Norse map was displayed to reaffirm that cyber is among the most significant threats to U.S. infrastructure.

Photo Credit: Norse

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HPE: Revolutionizing IT Wed, 16 Aug 2017 20:11:39 +0000 Q&A with Ken Bruni, director, Advanced Programs Group; and Howard Clifford, distinguished technologist

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Q: How does HPE support the Intelligence Community (IC)?

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has had a strong, long-term relationship with the IC, engineering and building information technology (IT), and providing consulting services in support of their unique and challenging missions. Additionally, HPE has worked with the IC to define technologies and techniques to address cyber vulnerabilities such as the advanced persistent threat, and as a result, HPE has created highly secure IT infrastructure. As part of HPE’s cyber strategy, the company is implementing the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework and NIST 800-171 to secure HPE’s supply chain. Finally, HPE has cleared support technologists worldwide and secure facilities in order to support the IC globally.

Q: What is the background on HPE’s Enterprise Services spin off to DXC Technology? How will this change HPE?

On April 1, we completed the spin-merge of our Enterprise Services business with Computer Sciences Corp. to form DXC Technology. We believe this was an important move for HPE to create a more focused company dedicated to the solutions our customers and partners tell us they want most.

HPE will retain and continue to invest in Pointnext, its technology services organization, made up of more than 25,000 specialists in 80 countries to support customers across advisory and transformation services, professional services, and operational services. These teams collaborate with businesses worldwide to speed their adoption of emerging technologies, including cloud computing and hybrid IT, big data and analytics, the intelligent edge, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Q: How is HPE innovating in the GEOINT space?

HPE is innovating across IT, from the core to the edge. One focus area is what we call “hybrid IT.” HPE recognizes some workloads are best deployed in public or private clouds, while others are best deployed in traditional IT infrastructure. Building and helping to create hybrid IT is a core strategy of HPE, since that is what our customers are asking for. To deliver on that strategy, HPE has engineered and built new hardware and software technologies to deliver the same dynamic configuration flexibility and economics of cloud across traditional computing, storage, and networking solutions. This innovation allows our customers to deploy the right workload on the right platform within the right economic model. Most importantly, this directly supports the GEOINT Community’s desire for rapid development and widely-shared apps and data hosted in the cloud while keeping data collection, high performance data processing, and mature workloads on traditional infrastructure.

Another major innovation is in the area of mobility with HPE’s Aruba Wi-Fi hardware and software. The IC now has its community cloud and HPE has worked with the IC to create a National Security Agency-approved way of handling sensitive and classified data over Wi-Fi. While Wi-Fi is likely not appropriate for use everywhere in the IC, it does have its place and its use will grow over time.

Q: What are your thoughts on how IT will transform in the next five years?

A huge change is already underway and will become more apparent in the next several years. If you look at the IT industry since its inception, there have been several tectonic shifts and we are at the beginning of a fourth shift. Now, we are rapidly moving toward a world where everything imaginable has some kind of connectivity and processing. This is the Internet of Things, where processing is decentralized and pushed out to the edge close to where data is created, whether by autonomous cars and planes, smart cities, or sensors adorning nearly every item imaginable. With IoT the number of “users” or data creators could reach the hundreds of trillions and the resulting amount of data generated will grow exponentially.

The computers we rely on today, from smartphones to supercomputers, are hitting a wall in terms of physical size, efficiency, and computing capacity, because today’s computers are based on an architecture that’s more than 60 years old. To address this challenge, HPE envisioned an entirely new computing architecture called “memory-driven computing,” which enables a massive leap in our ability to process data. It allows the development of new ways of extracting knowledge and insights from large, complex data sources. Massive performance gains can be obtained from rethinking and re-architecting how data is processed and analyzed. All of this has huge implications for the IC, allowing the community to leverage the power of the IoT.

Machine learning will cease to be a novelty and will soon become a necessity as the data volumes continue to grow beyond what human eyes can view and analyze. And, the IC will need to learn how to protect its own IoT from exploitation as well as how to exploit the intelligent things deployed by adversaries. For the IC, our adversaries’ secrets hide in plain sight within that ocean of data, and it’s critical they have the systems and know-how to discover those secrets.

Q: What benefits has HPE seen from its USGIF Organizational Membership?

HPE has maintained a great relationship with USGIF. The GEOINT Symposium is one of HPE Federal’s most important shows to attend. The breakout sessions, networking events, and access to senior executives within IC leadership are outstanding. HPE also greatly benefited from attending USGIF’s Powering GEOINT Analytics: Big Data from Small Sats workshop in April at NGA Campus East in Virginia. The theme of collecting data from small satellites was right on target and of great interest to HPE. We see computing at the intelligent edge as a significant area of opportunity for many years ahead.

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Computational Powerhouse Wed, 07 Jun 2017 05:24:10 +0000 Noblis shows off data analytics and machine learning at its first GEOINT Symposium

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Exhibiting for the first time at GEOINT 2017 is Noblis (Booth 1337), a nonprofit research and analytics organization.

“We’re fresh. We’re kind of looking at [GEOINT 2017] as our coming-out party,” said Ellen McCarthy, president of Noblis NSP, the company’s intelligence segment.

At its booth, Noblis is featuring capability overviews and subject matter experts sharing insights with attendees. Additionally, visitors to the Noblis booth may view a series of informative videos highlighting the organization’s services.

Among those key offerings is Noblis’ data analytics capability, which leans on the company’s Center for Applied High Performance Computing to develop and commercialize applications requiring graph analysis.

“We have a Cray [XMT2] computer, and a bunch of SGI and IBM power,” said Roger Mason, executive VP of Noblis National Security and Intelligence. “That allows us to not just do powerful engineering analytics, but to test [real-world use] cases.”

For example, open-source data can be used to compare satellite positions and monitor movement of objects, improving a client’s spatial situational awareness.

According to Mason, Noblis has experienced great success in machine learning.

“We have a group that has done applied machine learning for facial recognition for IARPA and others,” he said. “We’ve taken that same group and instead of applying that machine learning to face recognition, turned it to a different type of imagery, i.e. GEOINT, to see what we can do in terms of feature extraction and change detection.”

Their booth includes information on this offering as well as on the Internet of Things.

Image courtesy of Noblis.

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Next-Gen Big Data Tue, 06 Jun 2017 03:12:21 +0000 MapR highlights big data streaming capabilities for the Internet of Things

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MapR Technologies (Booth 1418) provides the analytic backbone for organizations seeking to bolster their big data capabilities. The company’s Converged Data Platform enables the global storage and sharing of GEOINT products while supporting the next generation of image classification deep learning algorithms.

At GEOINT 2017, MapR is sharing a booth in the New Member Showcase with partner GeodataIT to discuss innovative solutions in big data, biometrics, and cybersecurity.

“MapR is showcasing how we can help with global data storage while simultaneously supporting [customer] needs to automate many tasks such as image classification, object characterization and moving toward object contextualization,” said MapR Field Marketing Manager Deborah Roszell.

The company is showing two primary items at the Symposium. The first is MapR Edge, a small footprint edition of the Converged Data Platform that addresses the need to capture, process, and analyze Internet of Things (IoT) data close to the source. MapR describes Edge as “the only big data streaming system to support global event replication reliably at IoT scale.”

The company is also demonstrating a global data fabric with microservice applications and streaming capabilities.

“MapR has a unique and exceptional offering that is really next-generation technology,” Roszell said. “The GEOINT Community will benefit from using our software and expertise to solve hard problems.”

Image courtesy of MapR

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Smart Stuff Fri, 10 Feb 2017 01:23:22 +0000 /?p=27894 The Internet of Things offers convenience, efficiency, and intelligence value, but also brings new risks to networks and data security

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Having co-designed the communication protocol on which the virtual world was built, computer scientist Vint Cerf is best known as one of the “fathers of the internet.” To his friends, however, he’s better known as an oenophile.

Cerf’s passions for wine and technology are not mutually exclusive. Along with more than 1,000 bottles of vintage vino, the wine cellar in his home near Washington, D.C., stores a sophisticated technology suite that tracks in real time the condition of his fine wine collection. It starts with a network of sensors that monitor the light, temperature, and humidity in every room of his house; if the temperature in the wine cellar rises above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, Cerf receives a text message on his smartphone. The system tracks when the lights are turned on, notifying him if someone enters the cellar without his permission. And because every bottle he owns is outfitted with an RFID chip, Cerf can take a quick inventory with his handheld RFID detector.

Cerf’s high-tech wine cellar isn’t just a technophile’s quirky hobby. It’s also a bellwether for the Internet of Things (IoT), which will be the nervous system of the hyper-connected world currently under construction all around us.

“Anything that is programmable that can communicate through the internet is potentially a ‘thing’ in the Internet of Things,” explained Cerf, a former Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)scientist who is now vice president and chief internet evangelist at Google.

Beyond sophisticated wine cellars, the IoT includes picture frames that can automatically download photos from the cloud, thermostats that can be controlled from one’s smartphone, and light bulbs that can be dimmed wirelessly. And that’s just for starters.

“By 2020, we’re going to have 50 billion ‘things’ that are connected to the IoT and performing various tasks in a massively interconnected way, from phones to blenders to printers to cameras,” said University of Montana Research Fellow Dr. Alex Philp, founder and vice president of special programs at Adelos, which specializes in fiber optic sensors. “The breadth of devices associated with the IoT will create a lot of complexity, but also overwhelming possibilities.”

Because each and every IoT device will have a physical and temporal location alongside its virtual footprint, GEOINT will be a key enabler to manage the challenges and harness the opportunities.

Behind the Buzz

British technologist Kevin Ashton coined the term “Internet of Things” in 1999 to describe the network connecting objects in the physical world to digital infrastructure in the virtual one. The buzzword, however, is actually the convergence of four much older concepts, according to Dr. Thomas Yen, technical director of the Internet of Things Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The first, according to Yen, is embedded sensing, whereby microprocessors make everyday objects “smart.” The second is pervasive connectivity, which allows one to be connected to the internet at all times. The third is ubiquitous computing, which makes computing possible across devices. Finally, there’s virtual interfaces, which describes the ability to engage devices without physically touching them.

“These four technologies coming together is what best defines the Internet of Things,” explained Yen.

Photo courtesy of Hexagon US Federal

The Internet of Things, based in part on technology from Hexagon AB, enables integrated managing of critical assets in “Smart Cities,” which improves efficiency, citizen safety, and overall quality of life.

According to Barry Barlow, chief technology officer at Vencore, “The Internet of Things is about objects that have embedded sensors that are connected so they can either transmit information or receive information, and in some cases act on that information.”

For example, take a connected refrigerator that photographs its contents and uploads the pictures to the cloud, where they can be accessed alongside recipes in a smartphone app so the consumer knows what to buy at the grocery store. “There are Samsung refrigerators on the market right now that provide that service to the owner,” Philp said.

Aggregate, real-time data captured from refrigerator-generated recipes and shopping lists could tell food manufacturers and marketers what consumers are buying, where, and in what quantities, allowing entire industries to turn on a dime.

Along with smart homes, another IoT growth sector will be health care. Devices like connected insulin pumps and pacemakers already help doctors and patients identify and target risk factors for conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

“Eventually, I think you’ll see nanoscale devices that are put into our bodies intravenously or orally to help us understand our heart rates and rhythms; measure and sample the microbiomes of our mouth, esophagus, and intestines; monitor cholesterol and blood pressure; and look for certain diseases,” said Philp, who added such devices will collect and transmit biological information via miniaturized versions of the RFID chips Cerf uses in his wine cellar.

In manufacturing, connected machinery could yield similar benefits by helping diagnose problems with equipment, materials, and processes.

“Sensors in machinery generate a great deal of data that can help manufacturers detect a bad product almost instantaneously and correct it as the problem is happening,” noted Yen, who said IoT-enabled diagnostics can help manufacturers eliminate not only wasted product, but also wasted time. “If a factory has 2,000 pieces of identical machinery, and 300 pieces failed after being used in a particular manner for a particular length of time, the company should be able to use that data to predict when the remaining machines will fail and pre-emptively fix them, thereby reducing unscheduled downtime.”

Connected Governments

Although most IoT innovation lies in the commercial sector, some of the most promising IoT use cases belong to government.

One such use case is public safety. “Imagine your house is on fire and the fire department is on its way,” Cerf said. “If you have webcams in the house and temperature sensors, you might want the fire department to be able to access those to determine: Where is the hottest part of the fire? Where did the fire start? Is someone unconscious? If so, in which room of the house?”

Or, imagine a connected camera at a busy intersection, suggests Pete Beckman, co-director of the Northwestern-Argonne Institute of Science and Engineering (NAISE), a collaboration between Argonne National Laboratory and Northwestern University through which he’s developing secure wireless sensors that leverage “edge computing” to quickly process and exploit data locally. With local rather than cloud architecture, Beckman said, sensors in streetlights could automatically deploy salt trucks after detecting cars sliding on ice, or emergency responders after detecting an automobile accident.

“Suppose a camera is looking down on an intersection when it sees a car strike another car. Based on the mass of the vehicles and their deceleration, a sensor connected to that camera could determine whether an airbag deployed and automatically alert 911. It could then immediately start routing traffic around the intersection in different ways by changing the traffic lights,” said Beckman, whose project is named Waggle after the dance bees do to communicate the location of nectar, pollen, and water to others in their hive. “You can imagine a whole set of autonomous reactions in our infrastructure based on collecting good data and being able to process it locally instead of sending it to a central server.”

Waggle is the foundational platform for the Array of Things, a Chicago-based project that will outfit the city with 500 modular sensor boxes, called “nodes,” by the end of 2017. Inside each node, a bundle of sensors will collect a cornucopia of urban intelligence—including 24/7 data on traffic, air quality, weather, and noise—that could help the city optimize resources and enhance services.

“The Array of Things is a science project to understand how we might instrument a city, what we could learn about a city, and how we could use that information to improve a city,” Beckman said.

Like local governments, the federal government can leverage the IoT to fulfill its mission—including that of national security. Where it’s open and accessible, for example, IoT data such as thermostat readings could be used by the military to determine building occupancy when responding to a natural disaster or performing reconnaissance on enemy targets.

“I think the Internet of Things can be an extremely powerful tool for intelligence gathering,” Cerf said.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) agrees. As part of its GEOINT Services platform, the agency is researching ways to stand up its own “Array of Things” to serve warfighters on the battlefield, according to NGA Deputy Director for IT Mark Munsell. “If you happen to be in an area with a geofence around it, all the devices in that area—drones, artillery, handheld weapons, and various other sensors—will be interconnected and working together to provide a multitude of services, be they intelligence-, combat-, or logistics-related,” he said. “Instead of your refrigerator, television, and thermostat, your weapons will be hooked up to the internet.”

Consider, for example, a sniper with a connected rifle. “[The rifle] will know its location from GPS, just like your phone would. It will know its orientation from a magnetometer, just like your phone would. And it will know its pitch and yaw from an accelerometer, just like your phone would,” Munsell said. “Now imagine it knows the terrain around you based on a service [NGA is] providing. With that, you can do a viewshed analysis and automatically determine whether your target is in range. If it’s not, when you look through the scope it will guide you to the location on the ground where you can see the target you’re aiming for. That’s what the concept of the Internet of Things will look like when it’s applied to combat operations.”

Powered by GEOINT

Photo courtesy of Waggle

The Array of Things (AoT) is a research project to deploy hundreds of interactive, modular sensor boxes around Chicago to collect real-time data on the city’s environment, infrastructure, and activity for research and public use. The AoT combines Waggle technology developed at Argonne National Laboratory with architecture and design execution from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. One of the early design prototypes from SAIC is shown here outfitted with Waggle.

In both public and private sectors, the IoT’s promise is manifold, according to Barlow, who cites three benefits in particular.

The first is relevance. “Take an app like Waze,” Barlow said, referring to the smartphone app that uses real-time traffic reporting to crowdsource navigation. “Instead of getting traffic updates every 10 minutes on the radio, you’re getting traffic information that’s current and affecting you right away.”

The IoT’s second benefit is accuracy. “The information you’re getting [from sensors] is raw and untouched. It hasn’t been manipulated,” Barlow continued. “In an emergency room setting, for instance, doctors can act quickly when a patient is connected because they know they’re in a certain room and that they’re having a certain problem.”

Finally, there’s the IoT’s scale. “We’re able to collect information from sensors not just on a local level, but also at regional and even global levels,” Barlow explained. “Because we have connected readers at cash registers all over the world, for example, credit card companies can detect massive fraud as it’s happening and take action to mitigate its impact.”

To Cerf, the benefits are quite practical—the IoT can save lives, time, and money. “For many of these devices, convenience, safety, and efficiency are the drivers,” he said, citing an example from Google, which recently conducted an experiment wherein it used an artificially intelligent neural network instead of human operators to control the cooling system at one of its large data centers. “We used machine learning to determine what was the optimal setting for various parameters, and we discovered that it worked better than people did. It was faster, it recognized patterns, and it saved us about 40 percent on our cooling costs.”

Because GEOINT adds spatial and temporal context to IoT services and analytics, it is the linchpin that makes such returns possible, according to Rob Mott, vice president of geospatial sales and marketing at Intergraph Government Solutions (now Hexagon US Federal). “The GEOINT Community is very important to the Internet of Things because it provides a visual understanding of trends and patterns,” he said, suggesting GEOINT’s major contribution to the IoT would be providing geospatial processing and web services to companies and consumers in the same way NGA seeks to provide them for warfighters. “Working with open standard data that’s readable by GEOINT processes, you can develop web services that provide answers to very tough questions but do not necessarily require looking at a map or interfacing with an app.”

Consider, for example, the Amazon Echo. Using its built-in voice service, Alexa, consumers can ask simple questions about weather, sports, movie times, and more. Thanks to predictive analytics, future Echo-like devices will be able to help commercial, industrial, and government users answer more complex questions in a similar fashion; by accessing web services that leverage geospatial data aggregated from sensors across the IoT, they’ll be able to predict everything from floods to traffic accidents.

“By looking at past trends and other parameters, a geospatial service could give you an answer without you ever having to interact with a map,” Mott said. “It will be a very elegant and powerful GEOINT process that will give you a very reliable, ‘X-marks-the-spot’ kind of answer.”

Next Stop: Interoperability

Photo courtesy of Botts Innovative Research

A multisensor field deployment uses Botts Innovative Research’s OpenSensorHub (OSH) service node and OSH Web Client Toolkit. The OpenSensorHub project supports development of software to automatically fuse data from disparate sensors and actuators.

Indeed, the connected future looks bright. Turning the IoT from a series of cool gadgets to an integrated network providing actionable information, however, will require industry and government to collaborate on policies, procedures, and protocols to mature IoT technology.

Among the areas most in need of attention, experts agree, is interoperability. “The real benefits of the IoT will come from integrating sensors and using multiple data sources to process information and make decisions,” said Dr. Mike Botts, president and chief technology officer of Botts Innovative Research, which designs open standards for sensor systems and geospatial-temporal data. In 2000, Botts developed the OGC Sensor Web Enablement (SWE) standards, a set of IoT standards established to achieve “plug-and-play” functionality of IoT sensors and actuators via web services. “‘Without [standards], you’re left with a big conglomerate of proprietary systems that force you to take a different approach every time you want to engage a different sensor. Standards give us a common language to query the world of sensors and extract observations from them.”

In 2014, Botts co-founded the OpenSensorHub project to support the development of software that automatically fuses data from disparate sensors and actuators. Based on SWE standards, the project’s goal is to accomplish for IoT web services what the USB standard accomplished for computer peripherals.

But SWE is just one potential standard in a single domain. In addition to web services, standards are needed for IoT architecture, communication, connectivity, and more.

“It will take some time to get to a common standard for the kind of data that’s collected, the way in which it’s described, the format it takes, the commands you can give to a device, and the response you can expect in return,” explained Cerf, who expects IoT innovators to spend another five years locking horns over competing standards before a universal one is adopted. At that point, he predicts, it will take another five years to solve the next big challenge: consolidation.

“I don’t want to have a separate app on my smartphone for every device I have in my house or my office; it would take me six minutes to flip through all my apps every time I wanted to flush the toilet or turn off the lights,” Cerf said. “What we need is a much broader kind of control environment—a multi-brand hub we can use to manage and configure all of our devices locally from one place.”

Along with a physical hub for devices, the IoT needs a regulatory hub for policymaking, according to Barlow, who cites security risks as an impetus for government rulemaking. Because the IoT will be so ingrained in citizens’ lives, he argues, the federal government should publish minimum security standards for IoT devices the way it does safety standards for medical devices.

“Medical devices such as catheters and pacemakers must go through certain tests to ensure they’re not going to do more harm than good,” Barlow said. “IoT devices need similar scrutiny, particularly in highly regulated industries like transportation, health care, energy, and the environment.”

IoT challenges and questions abound. But so do the opportunities—especially for GEOINT.

“The IoT adds a whole new dimension to geospatial intelligence by giving us a new way to detect and understand the world at a particular time and in a particular place,” Botts concluded. “It’s no longer just grabbing an image and storing it somewhere to make a map. It’s dynamic, and that’s going to give us a lot of new capabilities.”

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Risky Business Thu, 09 Feb 2017 20:21:54 +0000 /?p=27893 Understanding the vulnerabilities of the Internet of Things is the first step toward better data security

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At approximately 7:10 a.m. EST on Oct. 21, 2016, unidentified hackers executed a large-scale cyberattack against Dyn, a New Hampshire-based company that monitors and routes internet traffic. The distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack—the largest ever of its kind—blocked access to websites such as Twitter, Tumblr, Netflix, Reddit, and Airbnb for internet users on the East Coast. Although no significant damage occurred, the attack was alarming because of the hackers’ modus operandi: They discreetly infected hundreds of thousands of “smart home” devices like internet-connected cameras, baby monitors, and thermostats with malware that hijacked the devices and used them to flood websites with so much junk traffic the sites could no longer accommodate legitimate visitors.

In a world abuzz with excitement about the Internet of Things (IoT), the attack was a blunt reminder that technology poses as many risks as benefits.

“It re-energized the conversation in this country about security,” said Rob Mott, vice president of military and intelligence solutions at Intergraph Government Solutions (now Hexagon US Federal). “People are beginning to understand: The more we rely on the internet, the more power we have—but also the more risk there might be.”

Indeed, the IoT comes bundled with threats as well as opportunities, according to Vint Cerf, vice president and chief internet evangelist at Google. Along with DDoS attacks, Cerf worries about specters like privacy breaches and data theft.

“Let’s suppose you have temperature sensors in a house and an unauthorized person is collecting data from them every five minutes. After six months, that person will have a pretty good idea of how many people live in the house and when they come and go, all of which might be very useful if they were planning to break into your house,” Cerf said.

It’s not just information that’s vulnerable. It’s the devices themselves, which could be hijacked by criminals or terrorists, according to Argonne National Laboratory Senior Scientist Pete Beckman.

“Suppose someone can turn off a hall light in your home. That’s annoying. But if someone can turn off all the lights in a hospital, that’s more than annoying,” he said, suggesting hackers could just as easily hijack connected thermostats to deny Americans heat in their homes, or turn all traffic lights in a city green or red to wreak havoc. “Those are the kinds of quick attacks that could have a really big impact.”

Policymakers have a responsibility to ensure public safety by passing IoT rules and regulations. Security must start, however, with the technology itself, according to Beckman, who said engineers and developers must design IoT products with security in mind. In particular, he advocates using distributed networks to make the IoT more resilient. “We have to build in distributed decision-making and distributed response so a single attack can’t disable an entire network,” he said.

Hardware and software likewise need to be reengineered with less vulnerability, which is a focus at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), according to Deputy Director for IT Mark Munsell. “[NGA is] looking at new methods of securing our network,” Munsell said. “A lot of our old systems have thousands if not millions of doors into our network. By moving to the cloud, we’re … building a house that only has one door, which we keep a real close eye on.”

NGA is well positioned to protect not only its own network, but also the networks of the nation at large. “Just like we have a role in securing the nation from physical threats, NGA has been asked to help secure the nation from cyber threats,” Munsell continued. “We’ll do this by using our expertise in mapping … to understand the physicality of the world’s networks, then take that up a notch through spatial analysis of devices and actors and activities.”

But the best line of defense in the IoT era might be citizens and consumers.

“All the people who were involved in [the DDoS attack against Dyn] had no idea their baby monitors had been hacked. But then again, they probably didn’t read the instructions to change their default passwords, either,” Barlow said. “As we move forward, there needs to be a cyber-education campaign to inform the public about the risks from technology and how to protect themselves.”

Return to feature story: Smart Stuff

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The Onward March of Technology Tue, 17 May 2016 21:11:00 +0000 DNI Clapper talks technological advances and clearance reform in final GEOINT Symposium keynote

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Director of National Intelligence (DNI) The Honorable James R. Clapper celebrated his 75th birthday in March. Another important milestone for the nation’s chief intelligence official, however, is the GEOINT 2016 Symposium—at which he made his final keynote address Tuesday morning.

Clapper, who will depart his post as DNI at the end of the Obama Administration, spent much of his address making self-effacing jokes about his age and Intelligence Community stereotypes. Beneath its jocular surface, however, the DNI’s speech had a very serious message: Technology can be transformational—if the Intelligence Community allows it to be so.

To make his point, Clapper invited the audience to time travel to 1996, the year Congress established the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), the predecessor to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). 1996 was memorable for many reasons—the OJ Simpson trial, the arrest of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, the bombing at the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, and the cloning of Dolly the sheep.

It was also the year world chess champion Gary Kasparov went head-to-head against IBM’s chess-playing supercomputer, Deep Blue. The pair played six matches, of which Deep Blue triumphed in only one.

Twenty years later, in March 2016, man and machine faced off again with a very different result. This time, a team of scientists challenged Google robot AlphaGo to play the ancient Chinese board game Go against master Go player Lee Sodol of South Korea. Sodol was victorious in one of five matches; AlphaGo won the other four.

The difference between Deep Blue and AlphaGo is stark, according to Clapper. The former, he said, was programmed to play. The latter, on the other hand, was programmed to learn. While Deep Blue had a limited repertoire of gameplay, AlphaGo has the capacity to become infinitely more skilled with each match it plays.

“We live in a world in which machines can learn from their own mistakes and can develop … intuition,” Clapper observed. “What does this mean for us lowly humans—particularly those of us in the Intelligence Community—and what can we do to adapt to the onward march of technology so we don’t get left behind?”

It’s a question the Intelligence Community (IC) must answer, Clapper said. And with the Internet of Things becoming more expansive, time is of the essence.

“The Internet of Things … has more than 10.3 billion endpoints [and is] projected to grow to 29.5 billion by 2020, with a market [worth] something like $1.7 trillion,” said Clapper, adding the IC is attempting to establish a community-wide policy on wireless capabilities.

But that’s just the beginning. Ultimately, Clapper indicated, what’s needed isn’t a single policy for leveraging a lone technology. Rather, it’s an IC-wide culture shift from resisting to leveraging technology.

“We can look at the pace of technical innovation as a scary thing—something that could take away from the advantage the U.S. Intelligence Community has now—or see it as something that will utterly revolutionize our lives for the better,” Clapper said.

Because better technology stands to yield better intelligence, the IC must prioritize access to information as much as it does the technology for acquiring information, according to the DNI. He highlighted one item in particular he hopes will be near the top of his successor’s to-do list: clearance reform.

“We have to make SCI (sensitive compartmented information) clearances more ubiquitous at the state and local level … so intelligence sharing benefits first responders,” Clapper said. “That means we need … a much more responsive, much more agile clearance system than we have today.”

Clapper devoted the final words of his keynote not to his own legacy, but rather to that of the IC at large.

“What has been lost in the public debate about how we conduct intelligence is why we even do it in the first place,” he concluded. “What we do at its most basic level is reduce uncertainty for decision-makers.”

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Prepare for Profound Change Fri, 06 May 2016 20:55:44 +0000 Q&A with Catherine Johnston, DIA’s director of digital transformation and operationalizing IC ITE

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Cathy Johnston is the Defense Intelligence Agency’s (DIA) director of digital transformation and operationalizing IC ITE as well as co-chair of the IC ITE Mission User Group. Prior to this position, Johnston was appointed DIA director for analysis in October 2012, during which time she led DIA’s all-source analytic effort. From January 2011 to September 2012, Johnston served as National Intelligence Manager–East Asia with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), where she led the Intelligence Community’s efforts on East Asia. Prior to assuming her position at ODNI, Johnston was Asia mission manager in the Directorate for Science and Technology (DS&T) at the CIA.

Johnston met with trajectory in February to discuss intelligence integration, what lies ahead for the Intelligence Community, how the GEOINT discipline is leading the way with its embrace of open-source information, and much more.

How did you get your start in the IC?

I had the huge benefit in grad school of working for Ken Lieberthal and Mike Oksenberg, who were both National Security Council advisers. During the summer, as grad school was wrapping up, they made a number of calls and introduced me to a variety of intelligence communities. I had spent my time in grad school studying the Chinese military and this was back in the day when absolutely nobody cared about the Chinese military. It was a very different environment. When I started applying to IC jobs, because my focus was on the military, there was a lot of interest in DIA in my field. I applied and got into DIA first. I started in April 1990. My whole point was to do Chinese military analysis. I thought I was going to do Chinese leadership and I ended up doing ground order of battle. And while I was in baby analyst training class, Desert Shield happened. Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. And I ended up doing Iraq chemical biological warfare, nuclear missiles, absolutely everything I knew nothing about, and so that started my intelligence career.

How does it feel to be back at DIA following your positions with CIA and ODNI?

It’s awesome. Part of having my time away was also time away from analysis. So it gave me experience in a variety of collection disciplines, into the business of doing intelligence and IC-wide intelligence integration. That really gives you a very different color when you come back and look at the analytic business and the operations and how we should be changing it.

What does your new role as Director of Digital Transformation and Operationalizing IC ITE mean to you? What are your main objectives for the future of DIA?

Let’s start with the digital transformation part. It is all about helping DIA adapt to the 21st century information environment and the 21st century environment writ large. There are a huge amount of changes that have happened in the last 15 years in the commercial world and industry. In the outside world, all of us are living in a very different way than we did 15 years ago when we sent information by fax machines. A lot of government, and particularly the IC, missed out on much of that revolution. Since we have not adapted to it to date, we are now faced with challenges that require us to rethink a number of our assumptions, operating models, business processes, and tradecraft. The most immediate thing impacting the IC right now in that sphere is the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (IC ITE). While all of these things have a technical dimension they’re really not about the technology. It’s digital transformation, but digital with a really tiny D. It’s really about operating model adaptation and changing the way we do business and interact. The benefit of IC ITE is that it will remove legacy stovepipes by putting the IC into a single platform. That has profound implications for the IT world, but those implications frankly pale in comparison to how it will enable mission. It will tear down the barriers that prevent the kind of integration we all want to achieve. It will be an evolution to get there. It’s not like we’re going to turn on a switch and have a completely reinvented world.

The way we look at data is closely tied to IC ITE. We need to look at data and treat it as a national asset—at a minimum as an agency asset, as an IC asset. That’s a really major culture change. Yes, there are technical implications. But it has much more to do with the way we handle data sharing policies and the way we cooperate and collaborate with each other.

Open-source information is another aspect of digital transformation. The amount of data that is publicly available rivals our classified holdings. Commercial imagery is a really good beta case for this where you see how much information is available and how much you can do using commercial imagery. It causes you to rethink our culture, what we’ve valued in the past, our tradecraft, how we characterize different standards—all of that. Open source is going to change even more dramatically in the next five to 10 years.

Cathy Johnston meets with an Army analyst assigned to DIA, March 2015. Photo by DIA Public Affairs

We’re also looking at over-the-horizon, disruptive events. The Internet of Things, the move to mobility in the commercial sector. We do not have a particularly mobile framework and the fact that industry innovation is moving to mobile first will present a challenge to us and we will need to rethink some of our assumptions. We’re also identifying new trends in biotechnology and identity intelligence and detection. All of these things present great opportunities but also great challenges to us.

What’s your day-to-day like?

About 30 to 40 percent of my day is reading mostly unclassified papers from industry and some from academia on new, disruptive trends. So block chain technology, just a wide variety of things. Many of them have a technical underpinning, but all of them are about changing business models. Some of them are new industry concepts on how to have effective, agile, organized teams. Some of them have nothing to do with technology; they’re all about how to get things done. I also read Wired and Fast Company religiously.

I spend another major chunk of my time dealing with what I call “ants.” Things that seem very little but are massive irritants and prevent forward progress for some of our pilots. Things like data-sharing policies. In most cases, it’s not the policy, it’s an interpretation of how the policy is being implemented— so really breaking through the “no barrier” when you’re trying to do something new and innovative. If it hasn’t been done before, it’s easy to find a voice that will prevent you from making forward progress; but in almost all cases, those voices are doing a standard interpretation of the way we’ve always done things and there’s usually a reasonable workaround.

In this new environment, we’re looking for unprecedented agility in the way government responds, and this requires that all of our enabling capabilities likewise have unprecedented agility, including our acquisition systems. So I dig into what those options are, learn from a lot of the civil agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services that have been able to figure out agile acquisition, and try to make sure we can learn from their experiences and build a similar system. Things like that are not sexy, they are not a lot of fun, but they are totally necessary to build an environment that allows for the kind of innovation we need.

What’s your team like?

I have a broad team made up of all parts of the agency. We also have service representation and people who have experience with the combatant commands. The core of the team is heavily represented by mission, and we have some high-powered representation from the CIO—in large part because there’s a heavy technical play, but the technology is the easiest part. The implications for operations and technology collection tradecraft are pretty amazing when you look at some of the innovations happening in the commercial world. We have a number of analysts who are on the team, some of whom have experience in the cyber dimension, in future analysis on where the threats are going to be. We have acquisition specialists. We’ve said to them, “We at DIA are good at predicting what the world and the adversary is going to look like in the future. We need you to look at how DIA will need to operate in the future.”

What is the role and significance of geospatial intelligence to the DIA mission?

As an all-source agency, GEOINT is a component of every single problem we look at. As a warfighting agency, GEOINT has a special place in the DoD warfighting requirement set. Probably the tightest partnership that we had when I was director of analysis was with my counterparts at NGA—NGA and NSA—but especially my counterparts at NGA because so much of what we do is to meet the foundational intelligence requires that both NGA and DIA have. When you look at the digital transformation space, the poster child for the intelligence discipline that is changing the most dramatically, in my opinion, is imagery. The advent of commercial imagery, the advent of data analytics tied to those data layers, the rethinking of data, the way NGOs are rethinking data layers and combining them with geospatial analysis is just a prototype. It’s at the vanguard of where all the rest of us are going to be.

Would you say DIA is watching NGA for lessons learned?

My belief is within five to 10 years the majority of the information we’re going to be processing will be open source just because of the explosion in that sphere. NGA is seeing it first because of what is available and open in commercial imagery. We are starting to see it, but we’re all investing in trying to understand those big data analytic methodologies, trying to understand the implications for our tradecraft—things like how to assess reliability for some of these new data sources. They’re just too new. We don’t understand them well enough yet to be able to apply standard tradecraft to them. It is a huge field of exploration for all of us, and NGA and the GEOINT sphere is at the forefront of redefining that.

What are some of the greatest challenges facing the defense intelligence community? How can industry help take them on?

The lack of adequate experience across the disciplines leads to a lack of creativity and inventiveness in thinking about what our business process should be in five years. For example, today we have inventive analysts who can improve upon the business processes they know using the tools they know. But in the architecture of the future, where we have a common IC platform, each of us bringing our existing production processes to that common platform will sub-optimize an integrated response. Because we don’t have enough familiarity with each other’s work processes, because we are still very discipline- and agency-specific, it’s hard to develop what we know we need to achieve in five years. It is helpful that the IC has joint-duty assignments where we seed people throughout other agencies to start to learn those processes, but we haven’t been doing it for long enough.

Generally, if you started off at NGA, you are an imagery analyst and you have stayed an imagery analyst for most of your career. It is a rare analyst who will go from being an imagery analyst to a SIGINT analyst, for example. We don’t have many officers that can understand the production systems within the stovepipes such that they can imagine what a truly integrated system would look like. And that’s what we need to be building. Right now. We need to imagine what that world needs to look like, but because of the lack of exposure, there are few people who can imagine it. That’s what we need a lot more ideation on. We’ll get better as we get more exposure and start doing more real-time collaboration as opposed to working a project first in the GEOINT discipline then sending it to the SIGINT guys to iterate on. With real-time collaboration, I think imagineering will happen and that creativity will be there.

Cathy Johnston presents a Defense Counter-Proliferation (DCP) Outstanding Role Model award to a DCP employee for exemplary representation of the DCP code of professional conduct in July 2015. Photo by DIA Public Affairs

Stovepipes remain our most consistent challenge. Many people say our fiscal environment is, but I actually think that’s not so much a challenge as a benefit. It is a challenge in the near term, no question. But because we’re all feeling the pinch, it’s causing us to look to each other to collaborate.

What has been your favorite job? Why?

I have had so many great jobs. It’s hard to pick. So I’d go with the job that was the most different, the one that took me farthest from my comfort zone. The farthest out of my comfort zone was working at DS&T which took me from being an analyst where I had spent my entire career doing analysis on Asia mostly and all of a sudden getting exposed to every conceivable collection discipline and understanding what all of the other agencies could bring to bear and what their limitations were. The learning curve was immense. When I look back on the job that probably influenced me the most, it would be that one. And it also set me up in great stead to then go work at ODNI and then come back to DIA with a very different perspective of defense analysis.

What advice would you give to young intelligence professionals? Is there any particular advice you would give to young women entering the workforce?

I would advise young professionals to take risks, to take on new challenges, and to constantly be learning and growing. If they are in a position where they are not learning and growing, it’s time to look around. The wonderful thing about the IC is there are so many different kinds of jobs. There are so many opportunities. You should never be bored.

I have a multiple part answer for women. Women especially should take risks because women have a tendency not to take risks. I have a “4-A” strategy for women: ask, act, advocate, and apply. Women don’t ask for challenges, they wait to be identified, to be tapped on the shoulder. It’s called “head down, pencil up syndrome.” You need to ask to go, ask for the challenges, seek them out. Act. If you wait to be told something, you will miss your opportunity. Take the initiative and act. Make a decision, do something. Advocate for yourself. Again, women are not terribly good about advocating for themselves and have a tendency to undervalue what they have accomplished and what they are capable of. I have made a habit of calling both men and women when I have a senior position available and asked officers of all sorts to apply. In 100 percent of the cases, I called a woman and asked her to apply for a stretch assignment she said, “I would never have presumed to think that I was qualified for this job.” And I’d say, “Well, I wouldn’t have called you if I didn’t think you were qualified for the job and I don’t expect that anybody will be perfect at a position the day that they take it.” If there are 10 requirements, women have a tendency to want to see themselves as qualified in all 10 of those areas, and men will apply if they see themselves as qualified for one in 10—and these are all generalities. So women need to put themselves out there more and they need to understand they are capable of so much more than they give themselves credit for.

Describe where you see the Intelligence Community in five years. What trends emerging today will help make this future a reality?

Five years from now, I think we will be so much more integrated—that a number of the impediments that prevent us from having seamless collaboration across the agencies and the disciplines will have evaporated. The majority of our work processes will be informed by big data analytics that will allow us to process far more information than we can even imagine processing today when things are still mostly manually curated. We will be achieving what is today unimaginable effectiveness in terms of mission delivery. We will have a more customizable delivery mechanism for our knowledge. Our customers will be able to extract content the way they want it in a timeframe that is much faster than they are currently able to gain it. And probably most importantly, we will be operating with much more open-source information than we’ve ever operated with. Open-source data and insights from industry, academia, and the open world will become the bread and butter. So that entire relationship between the IC and industry and academia will start to change.

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The GEOINT Revolution Sat, 31 Oct 2015 18:47:13 +0000 Multiple technologies are advancing and converging to unleash the power of geospatial intelligence

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Five years ago the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) and some of our members helped fund an innovative media project called “The Geospatial Revolution.” The video series, by Pennsylvania State University’s public broadcasting affiliate, chronicled how a number of elements were coinciding to create a revolution in geospatial technology and information.

Today, we’re experiencing a similar convergence of technology swirling around this thing we call geospatial intelligence (GEOINT), a term coined by the U.S. government just 12 years ago. GEOINT—not to be confused with simply “geospatial”—is loosely defined as the derivation of information from imagery, geospatial data in all forms, and analytics. As the government defined and began shaping its approach to GEOINT, remote sensing and geospatial information were transforming in commercial areas even faster and with greater implications. Over the past 12 years, the concept of GEOINT expanded beyond the national security sector to play a critical role in the arena of business intelligence. GEOINT-like capabilities enabled location-based services and have transformed myriad areas, including logistics, marketing, agriculture, and data analytics. GEOINT is increasingly recognized as a key differentiator offering a competitive advantage in both the B2B and B2C worlds.

Just as GEOINT has crossed into sectors beyond government and national security, it has also traversed international boundaries. The concept first took hold among the Commonwealth nations, but now GEOINT is a globally accepted phenomenon. Because of this rapid growth, GEOINT professionals are in high demand. Simply put, if you are analyzing imagery, drawing information from it, and applying geospatial context to solve a problem, you are a “GEOINTer.” Earlier this year, more than 21,000 people from 181 countries signed up for the first free massive open online course dedicated to GEOINT led by Penn State—proof the power of GEOINT is spreading around the globe.

The community is at an inflection point, embarked upon a GEOINT Revolution. Revolutions happen when a number of things come together serendipitously to create something new. Merriam-Webster defines revolution as “a sudden, radical, or complete change,” such as “a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something: a change of paradigm” or “a changeover in use or preference especially in technology.”

While it is unclear where this revolution is headed, the GEOINT Community must immediately work to discern the end state of this transition and prepare to operate in the new paradigm. The GEOINT Revolution will change the way humans interact with where we are, what we’re doing, and how we understand and characterize activity on Earth.

Each of the following technological components are arguably undergoing smaller revolutions in their own right, and together they create the synergy that is the larger GEOINT Revolution.

1. Precision Location Data

Most of us carry advanced geolocation devices in our pockets. They are nearly ubiquitous and have changed the way we view and interact with location. No one walked into the Verizon or AT&T store and asked for a mobile phone with integral GPS capability. It’s there by law for enhanced 911. By the close of 2015 there will be more than 7 billion mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide—up from 738 million subscriptions in 2000—amounting to a penetration rate of 97 percent. Each one of those devices will have built-in geolocation capabilities. Precision location vastly expands and enriches the potential for applications to collect, aggregate, and make use of high-density information about a single locale and perform time-series analysis of data collected over time. The U.S. isn’t the sole provider of precision location data. The rest of the world, with access to GLONASS, GALILEO, GAGAN, and BeiDou, is making tremendous advancements and adding precise data points with various sensors and systems.

Precision location data extends beyond our mobile devices. For instance, vehicles increasingly monitor their driver’s location, ATMs record transaction locations and history, Internet browsers and search engines build geo-located history of an individual’s online activities, etc.

2. Remotely Sensed Information

The hyper-availability of remotely sensed information—whether from platforms on the ground, in the air, or in space including electro-optical, radar, thermal, or multi- or hyper-spectral—was unimaginable just a handful of years ago. For instance, space-based, high-resolution imaging that was only available to select governments is now available to anyone with a checkbook. Commercial imagery provider DigitalGlobe can now sell images at 30-centimeter resolution and is moving toward 25 centimeters.

Meanwhile, SmallSat start-ups are changing the game with regard to how we approach remote sensing from space. Though high-resolution commercial satellites cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build, one of Planet Labs’ Dove satellites can be produced for $60,000. Launch for a large satellite aboard an Atlas V rocket costs $10,000 per pound, but a ride on a reusable launch vehicle costs as little as $10 per pound. The next few years will be exciting as the optimal mix of larger, more capable satellites and smaller, less expensive satellites emerges.

Today, hobbyists, agriculturalists, disaster relief personnel, and many others are proliferating unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology for imaging in their domains. In August, the Federal Aviation Administration made a significant step toward the commercialization of UAVs, approving more than 1,000 applications from companies seeking to operate the systems in U.S. national airspace. The agency predicts there will be more than 30,000 UAVs operating in national airspace by 2020. We are at the precipice of understanding how these vehicles will be deployed and employed.

The GEOINT Revolution is fueled by this next generation of remote sensing, which has made it much more accessible to create robust new sensing networks.

3. Software

Incredibly capable geographic information systems and increasingly powerful software for imagery exploitation and data analytics continue to flourish. Without this elegant software, GEOINT data simply wouldn’t be as accessible, retrievable, and user-friendly. Large companies such as Esri and Hexagon have invested heavily—in close and continuous contact with their massive respective user bases—to create capable software that has unlocked much potential from geospatial information.

Another aspect of the ongoing GEOINT Revolution is the growing adoption of open-source software. GEOINTers of all stripes are increasingly familiar with and able to write or use scripts as part of their creative processes. A search of “geospatial” on GitHub turns up nearly 800 repositories and more than half a million code results. Traditional software engineer roles undoubtedly remain, but analysts whose second language is Python or another program to create “mashups” of information in a geospatial context now perform some of the work. The GEOINT Revolution will continue to transform how we think about and approach software development, integration, and adaptation.

4. Broadband Communications

The spread of broadband communications infrastructure via fiber optics enables the rapid transfer of very large files, while the ordinariness of routers, switches, and increasing bandwidth in space allows broadband to be spread around the world in ways never anticipated. According to the United Nations Broadband Commission, more than 130 countries now have national broadband or information communication plans. As of December 2014, mobile broadband penetration had reached more than 81 percent, and fixed-line broadband subscriptions tallied 358 million according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

5. Processing Power

Processing power was once a primary limiting factor to combing through large imagery and geospatial files. According to The Economist, it may be only a decade before Moore’s Law—the concept of shrinking transistors to double the amount that can fit on a microchip approximately every two years—hits a plateau. In the meantime the smartphones in our pockets have the same processing power of the massive Cray-2 supercomputer built only 30 years ago, and we’re still moving forward. Decoding the human genome, which originally took 10 years, can now be accomplished inside of a week.

Imagine the potential over the next decade, especially with regard to GEOINT-related data and information, as high-power computing becomes more widely available. Human processing remains important as well. Large-scale crowdsourcing efforts, made possible by platforms such as Tomnod, leverage the power of volunteers to train an unprecedented number of human eyes on imagery. Crowdsourced crisis mapping continues to be instrumental to the success of humanitarian relief efforts such as stemming the Ebola outbreak in West Africa or responding to the earthquakes in Nepal.

6. Storage

A 250 MB hard drive circa 1979. Photo Credit: @HistoryInPics

Storage limitations have been greatly minimized by the vast adoption of online server networks. The emergence of the cloud as a distributed way to manage how data and information are stored, processed, and delivered presents a seemingly endless set of options to approach a task. Should you process in situ or in the cloud? How much of your data should you store in the cloud versus on your device?

It took 26 years to develop a 1 GB hard drive but only four years—between 2007 and 2011—for hard drives to quadruple in storage from 1 to 4 TB. A 128 GB flash drive can now be purchased for less than $30, and some predict 20 TB hard drives will be commonplace in the near future.

The rise of the cloud can be largely attributed to the lowering cost of storage. As recently as 1990 it cost $10,000 to store 1 GB of data in the cloud. Today, anyone with an Internet connection has access to 15 GB of free storage via Google Drive and the ability to store 1 TB of video on Dropbox for $100 a year. This increase in local and cloud storage provides infinite possibilities of combinations if you are a developer or analyst looking to solve a problem.

7. Data Analytics

Big Data was initially viewed as a problem, a “data tsunami” that would overwhelm users. The GEOINT Community realized this onslaught of data could be incredibly useful if the proper tools were in place to derive information from it. The emergence of data analytics has made volume, even huge volume, an advantage and a differentiator. Ninety percent of the world’s data was created in the last two years alone. Half a million tweets full of open-source intelligence are generated each day. Dynamic data analytics is required to make use of this information. Data analytics, and now predictive analytics, are bringing about change in many fields, including health care, telecommunications, utilities, banking, and insurance. The GEOINT tradecraft both benefits from and contributes to the leapfrogging advances in data analytics.

8. Mobile

The growing mobile device market, from smartphones to activity trackers and other wearables, is creating a rapidly proliferating sensor web. Nearly half a billion mobile devices and connections were added in 2014, when mobile data traffic equaled 30 times that of the entire Internet in the year 2000. By 2019, mobile data traffic is expected to increase tenfold.

Video uploads from smartphones have added to the boom in open-source intelligence. One hundred hours of video is uploaded to YouTube each minute, and Facebook video views have increased fourfold in the last year to about 4 billion per day.

Building on the ubiquity of mobile devices and precision geo-location information, imaginative ways to leverage location are among the hottest areas of mobile app development. Enabled by mobile devices, location-based intelligence and services are changing the game in terms of consumer marketing, business intelligence, and academic research. Nearly 75 percent of smartphone owners use location-based services. We use location-based apps daily to locate friends, find restaurants and entertainment venues, check public transportation schedules, request ride services, and even to find our way around a building and receive offers from retailers based on our location (see pg. 32). More than $10 billion was spent on U.S. mobile advertising in 2014, with $3.5 billion spent on location-based mobile advertising alone—a number representative of GEOINT’s permeation of business intelligence.

9. Virtual & Augmented Reality

The New York Times has teamed up with Google Cardboard to launch a virtual reality documentary film. Credit: Google

Virtual and augmented reality are entering into everyday tasks in fields ranging from medicine to vehicle maintenance, urban planning, and more. GEOINT data is essential to accurately model real locations in gaming, virtual reality, and augmented reality environments.

It is estimated that by 2018 the virtual reality market will grow more than 200 percent and acquire 25 million users. Analysts predict the augmented reality market will grow to $5.2 billion in 2016, and that by 2017, more than 2.5 billion augmented reality apps will be downloaded to mobile devices.

10. The Internet of Things

Not only are humans becoming sensors via our smartphones and wearable devices, but so are our possessions. The Internet of Things will provide a tremendous live-streaming set of data about our environment. It will facilitate an unprecedented understanding of where we are, what we do, and how we engage with one another and the items that surround us. Imagine your phone telling your garage door, thermostat, and television you’ve arrived home. Without lifting a finger your garage door is open, the AC is on, and the 6 o’clock news is queued up. The number of devices connected to the Internet already far exceeds the number of people on Earth, and conservative estimates project there will be 50 billion connected devices globally by 2020. Some experts posit the number of connected devices could actually reach as high as 250 or 300 billion by that time.

Opportunity and Responsibility

Throw these 10 elements in a pot, stir gently, put it on simmer, and you have the recipe for the GEOINT Revolution. And it’s already happening.

It’s imperative the GEOINT Community start thinking and talking about the GEOINT Revolution today, in the most expansive context possible, so we can shape its direction rather than be dragged along behind it. The revolution demands we explore challenges differently, such as thinking more broadly about GEOINT and remaining open-minded regarding new business methods. The Intelligence Community created and nurtured the idea of GEOINT over the past decade or so, but as GEOINT expands rapidly into almost every sector of the economy we will learn from others who are approaching the discipline with fresh sets of eyes, ideas, and motivations. We must not hold on stubbornly to the GEOINT that was, but rather embrace the GEOINT that is to be.

There’s a tremendous opportunity at hand for the GEOINT Community, and along with that opportunity comes significant responsibility. It’s incumbent on all who identify as GEOINTers to take some time to determine the role he or she will play in the GEOINT Revolution, and then to step up. Rapid change is underway, and although we don’t quite know yet what the outcome will be, USGIF will remain at the forefront of fostering discussions regarding the impact of each of the revolutionary elements described above.

Indeed, the recognition of the capabilities inherent in these new technologies is very exciting, and new processes will be developed, but ultimately it’s people that must have the tools to take advantage of all that technology has to offer. It is our duty to educate, train, and professionally develop the workforce of today, and of the future, to harness the technologies integral to the GEOINT Revolution. The people who are driving the revolution are an entirely different generation than those who launched it.

Consider the implications of the GEOINT Revolution, and appreciate that if we don’t enable professionals in all industries to understand how GEOINT affects their particular field, and if we don’t learn from them reciprocally, we won’t be prepared to operate effectively in a profoundly changed world.

Additional Resources:

International Telecommunication Union ICT 2015 Report
Mind-Blowing Stats About Wearable Technology
Broadband Access Trends in 2015 and Future Predictions
Virtual Reality Revenues Could Reach $21.8 Billion by 2020
Five Ways Big Geospatial Data Is Driving Analytics in the Real World
Why Location Is Important for Analytics
The Internet of Things

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