Data-Information Access and Collaboration for Tactical Operations

Panelists explore the challenges of delivering and receiving actionable intelligence from platforms to tactical operators


Dissemination focuses on the sending of imagery. We are in an age where sensors are everywhere (at both tactical and strategic levels) and the need for synchronous access is great. On USGIF’s GEOConnect Series Virtual Main Stage Sept. 9, a panel of all-star GEOINTers held a focused discussion on GEOINT dissemination and collaboration as it relates to operational challenges. The panelists also discussed future solutions to alleviate standing issues in order to achieve mission success throughout the community.

Over the years, there have been many changes to the processing, exploitation, and dissemination (PED) of GEOINT data sales. But according to Jim Youker, director, GXP, BAE Systems, the biggest change to PED sales is the large amount of data access we have today. Therefore, putting data back into the libraries they are found is important to continue its exploitation from the tactical to the strategic level.

“Through discretionary and controlled access, when you are done with the PED process, you put that data back into the library so other PEDs can work on them and continue the exploitation mission,” said Youker.

Yet according to Jason Brown, senior cloud advisor, Public Sector, Google, as data sharing technology from the commercial sector led to collaboration with government agencies, the PED model began to breakdown and analysts were unable to provide temporally relevant data to their customers. But the expectations and capabilities of analysts began to change as they became aware of the commercial technology and capabilities that were out there, he added.

“We were trying to apply a waterfall methodology in an agile world and that world has only become more complex with the proliferation of commercial GEOINT and other capabilities,” Brown said. “Fundamentally, we had to begin addressing business processes and technology development. On the business side, we had to break down these industrial PED models and reform our teams into these cross-functional teams focused on fundamentally solving problems.”

The U.S. Air Force, according to Jen Sovada, chief futures officer and SVP/GM of DoD, Mission Tech, has been one of the most forward-reaching and innovative armed services.

“One of the things that has changed over the last few years is now we need to build comprehensive systems that actually link the strategic to the tactical,” Sovada said. “There has [also] been a mindset change for how we want to acquire comprehensive systems, such as having an agile methodology instead of a waterfall methodology.”

But the challenge, according to Scot Currie, director, Source Operations Group, NGA, is not the technology, but the policies that have been put in place and the limited capabilities to share the data once it reaches the customer.

“GEOINT is a multidisciplinary environment and data needs be integrated across the board,” Currie said. “Historically, we have had a production-like process in GEOINT. But all of that is changing. So, we have to change the way we do business.”

USGIF continues its mission to bring thought leadership, cutting-edge technological presentations, key insights for decision-making, and educational and professional development opportunities to the entire geospatial intelligence, trade, and academic community. The GEOConnect Series is an accelerated outcome from USGIF’s strategic plan to go digital. The GEOConnect Series features multi-session virtual events such as live-streamed or recorded panels, podcasts, webinars, training, a virtual exhibit showcase, and more.

Learn more about The GEOConnect Series.

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