A panel of GEOINT experts discuss the role of 3D content as a tool to support military operations
On USGIF’s GEOConnect Series Virtual Main Stage Aug. 28, a panel of GEOINT experts explored what future targeting could look like when a suite of augmented reality and accurate 3D data supports cross-functional teams.
Five years ago, Cameron Conger, technical director/CTO, 363rd ISR Wing, Air Combat Command, USAF, would not have believed the impact of commercial advancements in the 3D field to military problem sets.
“And yet, that is the world we have today,” said Conger. “[The commercial market] has really given us a powerful foundation to use geospatial 3D terrain and information to enhance our current capabilities and transform them into something even more powerful in the future.”
3D GEOINT is critical to providing analytic content and visualization that makes sense of today’s threats and anticipates tomorrow’s. This, according to Todd Johanesen, 3D GEOINT executive, NGA, will lead us to change the way in which intelligence topics are understood. “3D GEOINT is critical in order to deliver trusted GEOINT with speed and accuracy.”
There is broad use of 3D data outside of training, and the Army Futures Command has begun to spread the capabilities of 3D data into other areas of work, such as operational support. Ryan McAlinden, synthetic training environment, Army Futures Command, explained the third dimension provides additional detail that enables different points of view and perspectives.
McAlinden pointed to specific areas the Army Futures Command and their partners have leveraged 3D capabilities. One is target coordinate mensuration, where 3D data provides additional detail otherwise unavailable in a traditional 2D data set, such as the sides of a building. Another area where 3D data has enhanced understanding is in collateral damage estimation and the ability to look at a weapon’s effect.
But 3D capabilities also lift a huge cognitive burden from analysts. An analyst job is to make a judgment that will ultimately lead to decision-making for warfighters based on data that historically came from multiple 2D sources. And making sure they don’t miss anything is of paramount importance.
“3D environments, especially augmented and mixed reality, are incredible productivity tools,” Jackie Barbieri, CEO, Whitespace Solutions said. “3D has tremendous promise for letting analysts pull problems out of 2D into 3D and interrogate it or pull it apart and then communicate it with their customers in a way that is far easier to understand and is more compelling than written words.”
The objective is a ubiquitous 3D geospatial enterprise, according to McAlinden.
“We want to be able to use this data and we want it to be reliable, consistent, and reproducible. Ensuring that the investment is consistent across the space is going to be as critical as building the content and capabilities that are part of it,” McAlinden said.