Student Showcase

GEOINT Foreword poster presentations highlight student GEOINT research


The GEOINT 2018 Symposium showcases not only the work of government agencies, partners, and contractors, but of students as well.

At Sunday’s GEOINT Foreword—the Symposium’s pre-conference science and technology day—current and recent college students, along with select Tampa area high school students, shared their geospatial intelligence research via poster presentations. Many of the students who presented research are also acting as GEOINT 2018 student assistants through a work-study program offered by USGIF.

Rebecca Reuss, who earned her master’s degree in geographic information technology from Northeastern University, examined what GEOINT could tell her about low-lying areas in Boston compared to current city maps.

“What I found was that quite a few of them were outside of the traditional government flood risk areas, so that potentially a lot of locations are being missed,” Reuss said. “These are areas that aren’t included in the government mandated flood risk areas, so they are overlooked.”

Reuss, who now works with geographic data at the Boston Police Department, said a lot of data went into her research, including analyzing the permeability of surface areas that could help or hurt the absorption of rainwater after a severe storm. Such information, she added, could be coupled with analysis of storm drainage outlet locations and performance to determine potential flood areas where extra resources may be needed.

GEOINT isn’t only helping with the problems of today. It’s also teaching us about civilizations long ago. Kevin Mercy is a junior at the University of Southern California, and when he completes his program will have a master’s degree in both archeology and geographic information science with a minor in geospatial intelligence. He focused his presentation on how LiDAR helped him uncover Mayan ruins.

“In archeology this is huge, especially in Guatemala because we have this really thick jungle cover, so investigation there has been very limited,” Mercy said. “But now we see everything that’s underneath the jungle to very high precision—up to one meter—so we know every physical structure that exists on the ground.”

Geospatial imaging and data analysis can help identify different structures—what’s a wall versus a temple—and gives archeologists “an overview of what is actually worthy of visiting and having attention in the field,” Mercy said, adding his team has identified more than 60,000 new sites that were previously undocumented.

GEOINT Foreword attendees voted for their favorite college student poster using the GEOINT 2018 mobile app.

The first place winner was Jacob Marchillo from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point for his presentation, “Using Augmented Reality for Terrain Visualization in Support of Mission Planning and Professional Development.” The second place winner was Molly Phillips from the U.S. Air Force Academy for her research, “Your Tweets are my Target: Open Source Tracking of Adversary Weapon System Development.” Mercy was awarded third place.

Marchillo will receive complimentary, full Symposium registration to GEOINT 2019 in San Antonio, Texas, a one-year USGIF individual membership, and the opportunity to present his or her research on stage during GEOINT Foreword 2019. Phillips and Mercy will receive a one-year USGIF individual membership.

Cordula Robinson, an associate teaching professor at Northeastern University, presented the research conducted by Colin Johnson, the winner of last year’s poster session.

Johnson’s project, “Building Change Detection with LiDAR Point Clouds,” used LiDAR to detect changes in volume, specifically the heights of buildings, but Robinson predicted it could do more.

“We feel the application could be much more broad-based and used in a number of capacities,” Robinson said, citing natural hazards, post-disaster recovery, monitoring of activity at nuclear power plants, and detection of unlicensed mining or construction activity as examples.

Headline Image: Jacob Marchillo (far right) from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point won the GEOINT Foreword student poster session.

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