Daniel Whalen is the Vice President of Business Development at Altamira Technologies, an open-source technology company that delivers innovative solutions to the defense, intelligence, and homeland security communities. In his role, Whalen leads Altamira’s engagements with the marketplace, aligning its solutions with market needs to secure new business and transitioning proposals to business units for on-contract execution.
How did your career in GEOINT begin?
GEOINT, for me, has been a thread that started in my earliest days in the Army at the National Training Center at Ft. Irwin. While there, as an OPFOR intelligence officer, I was charged with understanding the terrain and the posture and potential actions of our adversaries precisely and accurately. Location and the anticipated and actual speed of movement across diverse terrain were central to our success.
What challenges did you face in your career?
One challenge is establishing trust with the decision-maker. In the legacy GEOINT Community, the standard issue was a tendency for everyone to be a photo interpreter. We might find ourselves spending considerable time addressing challenges to the method of data collection, and more to its interpretation. I learned that trust between the final intelligence professional and the decision-maker is critical. The decision-maker already has enough soft variables to contend with. To address that issue, I structure reports so that uncertainty is acknowledged and conclusions presented in a highly transparent and understandable manner.
What advice would you give young professionals starting their careers today?
Explore the margins and adjacencies of all domains. Consider analogous situations to what is before you when considering the way ahead.
How have you leveraged USGIF resources?
I have been an active USGIF participant for over a decade and joined as a member when the opportunity presented itself several years ago. I joined to grow with a community of GEOINT professionals. The annual GEOINT Symposium has been a wonderfully central aspect of my career. Through engagements I have on the floor, in the speaker sessions, and throughout the event, I have grown overlapping personal friendships and professional networks. These engagements extend to the workshops, GEOINTeraction Tuesdays, and the Annual GEOGala—which have produced ongoing engagement with the community.
What motivates you about the future of GEOINT?
The ubiquity of GEOINT in our lives—over and above how it applies to national security—is exciting. It is inherently understandable and tangible, offering a firm connection to our everyday [lives]. As we move forward, we will look to GEOINT as our lives, politics, and cultures increasingly become interrelated into tightly coupled systems. GEOINT will help us keep the advantage of the security of humankind.