Cross-Disciplinary GEOINT

GEOINT Foreword to showcase the broad role of geospatial intelligence across sectors


Geospatial intelligence is rapidly expanding far beyond its defense and intelligence community origins. Speakers at Sunday’s GEOINT Foreword—the GEOINT Symposium’s pre-conference science and technology day sponsored by IBM—will detail the many ways GEOINT is influencing disaster planning and relief, healthcare, sports, analytics, and other industries.

The goal of this year’s GEOINT Foreword is to connect people from different fields who are united in their use of geospatial intelligence, said Renard Paulin, who helped plan the event as volunteer co-chair of USGIF’s Tradecraft and Professional Development Committee.

Paulin said he hopes GEOINT Foreword participants “take ideas and concepts they’ve learned at GEOINT Foreword and … combine them with what they’re hearing at the larger GEOINT Symposium to come up with something different, unique, or interesting.”

Budhendra Bhaduri, director of the Urban Dynamics Institute at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will participate in a GEOINT Foreword panel discussion on emerging geospatial technologies in health services.

“GEOINT Foreword is almost a preview of some of the work that is going on in the broader context of the GEOINT Community,” Bhaduri said. “It’s just highlighting a very particular section of the sort of cross-disciplinary collaborative impact.”

Bhaduri said he plans to discuss how GEOINT can be applied to better understand the planet’s population, population mobility, and the state of certain settlements or environments.

“All of this is extremely critical information for … agencies that are trying to work in the epidemiology mission or healthcare accessibility mission,” he said.

Bhaduri and Oak Ridge have partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in an effort to eradicate polio, starting with the goal to vaccinate all children in Nigeria under the age of five. Vincent Seaman, interim deputy director for strategy, data, and analytics at the Gates Foundation, will also speak on the health services panel.

“We rely heavily on basic geospatial reference data—so names of settlements, locations, and some key points of interest like health facilities or schools or markets,” Seaman said. “In most of these countries, the census data is usually not very good. It’s hard to even get access to it, and sometimes there hasn’t been a census in a really long time. Having a way to estimate population based on what we can see from above and then based on some information from the ground is really useful.”

Seaman and Bhaduri both said they aim to work more closely with other government agencies and private companies to learn new ways of improving the collection and cataloging of GEOINT data—and in turn share any innovations that arise from their health sector mission.

“This cross-fertilization of ideas, challenges, and solutions by being able to interact with a very large community of practitioners and decision-makers provides a unique and unprecedented opportunity to gain from this kind of cross-disciplinary thinking,” Bhaduri said.

In addition to the health services panel, GEOINT Foreword 2018 will feature panels on GEOINT to optimize human performance in sports, spatial analytics to improve disaster planning, and professional development in geospatial data analytics. Dawn Meyerriecks, deputy director of the CIA’s Science & Technology Directorate, will give the GEOINT Foreword keynote address Sunday at 9 a.m.

Headline Image: Dr. Chris Tucker of USGIF’s Board of Directors greets attendees during GEOINT Foreword 2017 in San Antonio, Texas.


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