GEOINT and Public Safety

The importance of GEOINT beyond military applications


USGIF CEO Keith Masback speaks at the GEOINT 2013* Symposium in Tampa, Fla.

I realize an image of a police car on the cover of trajectory might be perplexing to some of our readers. But, from the USGIF perspective, it’s probably overdue. Since the attacks of 9/11, the majority of the Foundation’s focus has been on the defense and intelligence communities as they worked together on operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Horn of Africa, and Yemen. All of this was managed in the context of other regional challenges such as Egypt, Syria, and Iran as well as strategic issues related to China and, more recently, Russia.

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security was created and has experienced the expected growing pains. Increasingly, the homeland security, emergency management, and first responder communities have found the value of integration, both horizontally and vertically. Horizontally we’ve seen small steps at the local and state level, such as first responders in the D.C. metro area learning to work more closely together in the aftermath of 9/11 and in the midst of natural disasters such as the summer 2012 derecho. In parallel, the development of the state and local fusion centers around the country represent a significant step forward in vertical integration, with the idea of facilitating federal, state, and local information sharing and fostering operational coordination.

Not unlike operations overseas, a central organizing principle of this type of engagement is inherently the geospatial intelligence underpinning—the ability to create and sustain shared situational awareness among all agencies whether supporting a national security special event, responding to a natural or man-made crisis, or even for daily operations.

Near-ubiquitous precision location information, prolific geospatial information, powerful computing, intuitive software, capable mobile hardware, and trained, experienced users collectively add up to the most important advance in recent memory for emergency managers and first responders at all levels. Whether policing a municipality, guarding a port, or securing the Super Bowl, GEOINT is indispensable.

Our recent inaugural National Security Workshop at GEOINT 2013*, coupled with the content in this issue of trajectory, demonstrates USGIF’s commitment to bring our resources to bear, broaden our outreach, and ensure that when we talk of our pillars—Build the Community, Advance the Tradecraft, and Accelerate Innovation—that we keep the entirety of our constituency in mind to include the public safety community alongside defense and intelligence.

As a nation, we’ve worked diligently to keep the instability of this increasingly dangerous world away from our shores. However, we will continue to see threats to the homeland, both from those who wish us harm and from increasingly severe natural phenomena. A better GEOINT foundation as part of a vertically and horizontally integrated enterprise is essential to prevent attacks and mitigate consequences. USGIF is committed to providing thought leadership and support to foster GEOINT’s role in keeping the nation secure.

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