Looking toward an immersive future to help manage Big Data
Industry is constantly pushing the boundaries of technology to not only achieve global missions quickly and more efficiently, but also to save lives.
BAE Systems is continuing to take on this challenge by channeling its diverse capabilities and innovations. The company’s structure offers everything from IT and cybersecurity, to system development and integration, to imagery and geospatial analysts supporting both the intelligence and defense communities.
“It’s nice to have the analytical staff along with the development staff housed in the same company—we can talk about solutions that meet the mark right out of the gate and deliver that solution as fast as possible to the customer,” said Craig Brower, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) account manager for BAE Systems’ Intelligence and Security sector.
Brower said the company has made its mark in a variety of areas—immersive GEOINT being a particular focus.
Immersion, described by NGA Director Letitia Long during her keynote speech at the GEOINT 2013* Symposium, is “living, interacting, and experimenting with data in a multi-media, multi-sensor experience with GEOINT at its core.”
“Hearing what Director Long had to say about immersive technology confirmed that we are already on the right path,” Brower said. “We are focused on making sure we can connect the data to the humans. We ask ourselves how do we make that data all around you and available to you in real-time or in near real-time, so folks can make decisions going forward?”
Having explored immersion for several years, BAE Systems is now working with various government agencies looking toward an immersive future to help manage Big Data, said Brower.
“The biggest challenge facing the defense and intelligence communities is making Big Data understandable,” explained Brower. “With everyone becoming a sensor, and news and information immediately accessible, we are swimming in data. The key is to make all kinds of data—structured and unstructured—useable for the decision maker.”
BAE Systems helps NGA and other intelligence agencies better connect their personnel with the data via the company’s GXP Xplorer Snap app, a new addition to the data management application suite GXP Xplorer. Paired with Google Glass, the app allows users to take a picture, crowdsource the information, and immediately upload a report to the GXP Xplorer server for sharing. The app allows the user to automatically geo-tag and time-stamp the report, all while being hands-free.
Though the app can also be downloaded on a smartphone or tablet, combining it with Google Glass puts the user in an immersive environment, allowing them to see the data directly in front of them in order to make critical decisions quickly. The app is targeted for soldiers deployed with reconnaissance assignments and for first responders handling disaster relief operations.
According to Brower, data collected using the Snap app can also be integrated into an activity-based intelligence (ABI) workflow to enhance analyst productivity. He added the company is looking to integrate ABI solutions into its products to help analysts solve problems in new ways.
“We are building an advanced analytics platform based on the ABI tradecraft,” Brower said. “In addition, we continually update our suite of GEOINT software products to support the latest tradecraft and analyst workflows.”
An Underrated CSAR
Immersion and ABI are not the only emerging areas in which BAE Systems is investing. The company recently entered into a strategic partnership with Airbus Defence and Space to produce a new product line solely focused on commercial synthetic aperture radar (CSAR) products. Using Airbus satellite data collected from its TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X radar satellites, combined with BAE System’s GEOINT management and analysis, this product line aims to establish a new standard in precision change detection applications, maritime monitoring, digital elevation modeling, and topographical mapping.
“We are seeing rapid advances in the quality of commercial SAR data, similar to the TV industry’s move from standard TV to HDTV, and we’re making strides to advance the standard even further, comparable to advancing images from HD to 3D HD,” Brower said. “You have a much more robust set of data to draw pictures of the foundation of the Earth and lay all other sources of GEOINT on top in order to provide people with a much better and more accurate view of the world.”
BAE Systems hopes its partnership with Airbus will not only create outstanding products, but catapult CSAR into the mainstream, helping more potential customers realize the technology’s benefits.
BAE Systems has set its sights on advances in several areas, but what does this mean for the future? Brower anticipates the way analysts solve problems is going to change, and the company strives to change with them.
“By shifting to a more immersive approach to GEOINT analysis, and integrating more advanced analytic solutions into the intelligence cycle, the very way we problem solve is going to change,” predicts Brower.
“Advanced analytic solutions are helping to usher in an era of anticipatory intelligence, which is crucial to solving hard problems related to terrorism, insurgency, narcotics trafficking, and weapons proliferation,” said Brower. “These tools are helping analysts interact with data in new and exciting ways and they’re helping us organize and present data in such a way we will have a better understanding of the possible impact and likely outcomes of critical decisions—before they are made. This will allow leaders to test possible responses and gauge their potential global impact before committing to that option.”
Photo Credit: BAE Systems