Looking Foreword

This year’s GEOINT Foreword pre-Symposium event focuses on the future


Attendees look on at GEOINT Foreword 2016 in Orlando, Fla.

This year at GEOINT Foreword—USGIF’s pre-Symposium science and technology forum held June 4—attendees will take part in discussions and listen to presentations that span the GEOINT spectrum, from tradecraft to data analytics to geographic information systems, with a focus on the future of the industry.

“Decision-makers, technologists, educators, students, analysts, business developers, and policy-makers will all find something of interest in the incredible tapestry woven from the fabric of conversations started by business, government, and academia,” said Dr. Darryl Murdock, USGIF’s vice president of professional development.

The morning GEOINT Foreword presentations highlight government speakers with expertise in applied research and development. This includes keynotes from Dr. Peter Highnam, director of research at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), and Dr. Stacey Dixon, deputy director at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA). In addition, the morning will feature two panel discussions on applied research at DoD-sponsored university affiliated research centers. These panels will include representatives from Georgia Tech Research Institute, Penn State’s Applied Research Lab, the Utah State University Space Dynamics Lab, and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab.

During the lunch break, researchers from Sinclair Community College’s National UAS Training and Certification Center in Dayton, Ohio, will present a live, virtual, constructive demo of the center’s unmanned aerial system (UAS) capabilities.

In the afternoon, presentations and discussions will cover the future of overhead imaging, with emphasis on where GEOINT analysts and decision-makers see the industry moving in the near future. This will include a talk from Dustin Gard-Weiss, director of NGA’s GEOINT Enterprise Office, who will discuss commercial GEOINT integration and unveil the agency’s new Commercial GEOINT Activity.

This will be followed by USGIF’s take on TED-style talks—what Murdock referred to as “GED Talks,” or GEOINT Engineering and Design Talks. This will take the form of three sessions with three speakers each. Speakers will have 12 minutes to give a free-form talk covering that session’s theme: perspectives from air, perspectives from space, or analysis-as-a-service/non-traditional GEOINT.

“Our future focus is exciting,” Murdock said. “We are now talking openly about how to find, educate, and train the next generation of GEOINT analysts. Technology is great, but strong organizations have realized that they need to first ask: ‘How does that technology help our analysts and decision-makers now and into the future?’”

Throughout the day, attendees will be able to provide feedback on topics via a survey available in the GEOINT 2017 app, the results of which will be shared prior to the final panel. The day’s final panel will focus on the changing analytic landscape, and will encourage attendees to provide insight into how they see collection and analysis changing in the near future.

There’s still time to register for GEOINT Foreword. Add the pre-conference session to your existing Symposium registration online or visit the GEOINT 2017 registration desk to sign up.

After a full day of learning about and discussing the future of the tradecraft, GEOINT Foreword attendees are invited to relax and network at the GEOINT 2017 Welcome Celebration, which begins at 7 p.m. on the South Bank of the San Antonio River Walk.

Attend a Live, Virtual, Constructive UAS Demo

Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, invested heavily in unmanned aerial systems (UAS) early on. In 2008, the college was part of an economic trade mission to Israel. After realizing UAS research aligned with its other academic priorities the school went “all-in” on the technology, said Dr. Andrew Shepherd, UAS program director at Sinclair.

Since 2008, the college has created an associate’s degree program in UAS and completed construction on an indoor Flight Range as well as a Flying Pavilion. It is also home to the National UAS Training and Certification Center. Recently, the program began giving live, virtual, constructive (LVC) demos on some of its capabilities, including collecting data to help first responders and providing beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) information.

During the lunch break, GEOINT Foreword attendees will have the opportunity to view one of these LVC demos, in which Shepherd and Dr. Ronald Storm, professor of unmanned systems at Sinclair, will show a combination of live flights being controlled by real people (weather permitting), real operators working in a simulator lab, and constructive components, which are computer-generated parts of the scenario that aren’t directly controlled by people. All of this will be displayed through Sinclair’s mobile ground control station.

“The exciting thing about it is, when you’re flying a UAS, there are many challenges,” Storm said. “And nobody has really flown UAS with manned aircraft together unless you’re military, and to demonstrate and test [this concept], there is risk involved. The LVC environment allows us to develop for situations where you’re operating manned and unmanned aircrafts, and what we’ve done is taken this capability and made it routine.”

During the demo, GEOINT Foreword attendees can expect to see a combination of the first responder and BVLOS capabilities. An airport infrastructure inspection, an inspection of a runway for damage, and a mapping operation of a farm are all planned as part of the demo.

Throughout the rest of the week, Shepherd and Storm will be in the GEOINT 2017 exhibit hall hosting indoor UAS flights as well as tours of the mobile command vehicle used in Sunday’s LVC demo.

Headline image: Phil Gilbert, general manager of IBM Design, gives a keynote address at GEOINT Foreword 2016.


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