The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation recently published a technical paper in collaboration with the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) and the Modeling, Simulation, and Gaming (MS&G) Working Group on advancing the interoperability of geospatial intelligence tradecraft with 3D modeling, simulation, and game engines. At USGIF’s 2021 GEOINT Community Forum, The Geospatial Metaverse – Infrastructure, Tradecraft, and Applications, a group of esteemed panelists discussed its implications, specifically the technology trends that are influencing the convergence of GEOINT and the MS&G tradecraft.
Panelists Scott Simmons, Chief Standards Officer at OGC, Barry Tilton, Technology Evangelist of Maxar and the Co-Lead of USGIF’s MS&G Working Group, Eleanor Crane, Chief Technology Officer at Enview, and Joe Kider, Assistant Professor at the University of Central Florida’s School for Modeling, Simulation, and Training, joined USGIF Vice President of Programs Christy Monaco, Vice President of Programs at USGIF for the discussion. As two of the paper’s authors, Simmons and Tilton contributed their experience and the thinking that shaped it, while Crane and Kider provided an external perspective of the impacts the white paper is expected to have on the geospatial intelligence community.
Simmons began the panel by discussing current 3D and 4D technological capabilities that enable the execution of modeling, simulation, and gaming operations, but referenced an evident disconnect between the technical and operational hemispheres of MS&G. He cited two solutions to this problem, both covered in the technical paper: first, leveraging all pieces of data and second, use of future automation, such as artificial intelligence.
However, Tilton shared that the future of such a divide may be relatively short-lived. “The paper determined that we are making good progress… unifying platforms and capabilities,” he said. Kider elaborated further on the integration and improvement of technology in the MS&G field. The technical paper highlighted that its accuracy is also improving, thus enabling a better experience for users and bridging the gap between geospatial information and synthetic data.
Additionally, Crane urged the advancement of graphic fidelity to further promote the user experience. If it is of a high enough quality, geosynthetic data can be used by both technology and humans for training purposes. When coupled with algorithmic transparency, acceptance of 3D and 4D equipment and programs to enable skill mastery will become more widespread.
Monaco posited a question from her prior national security experience about how hyperspectral data may be impacted by 3D/4D technology. From an academic standpoint, Kider joked that “hyperspectral [data] will be the new Wild West.” The niche of hyperspectral information in the modeling, simulation, and gaming realm is not yet fully actualized but is certainly headed down that path.
Simmons turned the conversation to remind listeners not to set expectations too high too quickly. “Consistency is sometimes more important [than advancement],” he explained. Tilton reiterated the point by stating that the creation of reliable technology provides additional trust in its capabilities amongst users, demonstrating stable tech should be prioritized over creating something that has the potential to function uncontrolled.
Panelists were given a choice to decide which areas would be the most difficult to address in the future—software, hardware, data, or culture. They agreed that data would be the most difficult, as the volume of information required to run models and simulations is incredibly large and tricky to transmit. Once data management obstacles are overcome, getting products and applications into the hands of trustworthy consumers will be the next rung on the ladder in the MS&G community.
USGIF thanks Scott Simmons, Barry Tilton, Eleanor Crane, and Joe Kider for participating in this discussion as part of the 2021 GEOINT Community Forum.
The United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s Working Groups allow individuals to discuss matters of national security while putting members at the forefront of thought-leadership. For more information about the USGIF Working Groups, please visit https://usgif.org/working-groups/.