Q&A with National Security Project Manager Tim Hale
What is Woolpert’s history in the GEOINT Community?
Woolpert was founded in 1911 and is based in Dayton, Ohio. Fittingly, surveying was the original service offered. Today we are a unique AEG (Architecture, Engineering, Geospatial) firm that delivers value to customers by blending our engineering pedigree with leading-edge geospatial applications.
We work with international customers as well as federal, state, and local governments and private industry. We’ve expanded our international reach in the last several years, not just in defense and national security but also in civil government and nongovernmental organizations. Many are surprised to discover we have customers on every continent. Specific to national security, we work with U.S. defense and intelligence organizations including military branches, combatant commands, and federal agencies.
What differentiates Woolpert from similar organizations?
AEG is a new acronym we coined and a distinct departure from the AEC (Architecture, Engineering, Construction) paradigm. AEG communicates the value of geospatial information to our customers when paired with our other services. Our geospatial sector acts as a great enabler and connecting force. As a result, we’re recognized as an information firm that can work demanding projects with diverse requirements from initiation to completion.
Specific to the geospatial sector, we do much more than provide accurate mapping data. We have our own survey teams, a fleet of aircraft and sensors, data processing centers, and mature photogrammetry, GIS, and mapping teams. We round that out with sensor research and development, application development, cloud services, and a Woolpert Labs innovation group.
What innovative geospatial initiatives do you have in development?
We have a fantastic program focused on global commercial airborne services, which provides high-resolution imagery and 3D geospatial information. We have worldwide collection capabilities as well as the capacity for rapid-response mobilization, prompt production, multilevel product generation, and online data dissemination and hosting. The heart of the program is executing projects in a structured and cost-conscious manner with a focus on minimizing risk and maximizing value.
We’re also investing in our “Blue Economy” initiative, which recognizes the importance of sustaining the world’s waterways, coastlines, and associated infrastructure. We provide airborne bathymetric LiDAR services, hydrographic surveying, and shoreline mapping for our “blue” market customers, and work extensively with various organizations to provide services that will benefit navigation safety, climate science, renewable energy, environmental protection, and homeland security.
You serve a wide range of markets—what is the importance of integrating GEOINT outside of national security?
Repositioning ourselves as an integrated AEG firm and seeing the positive response to this new paradigm speaks volumes to the importance of geospatial in our non-defense markets. Every non-defense discipline within Woolpert uses large components of geospatial information. Take, for example, innovative programs happening at civilian agencies and the proliferation of location-based services. The integration of GEOINT in non-traditional markets is a natural evolution of the technology.
How are next-generation technologies like machine learning and cloud infrastructure shaping Woolpert’s offerings?
Both of those have become major components of our geospatial capabilities. Value-added intelligence continues to be of prime interest to our customers, as does data storage and distribution. Traditional products like imagery and point clouds are fantastic, but customers have huge interest in feature identification, route networking, automated tagging, and similar applications. The same customers are interested in using cloud services to host data, process analytics, and make it accessible as the volume of data and its uses grows.
What excites you most about the future of GEOINT?
First is the incredible rate of technological advancement. The improvement of each new sensor and collection platform is astonishing. Coupled with advancements in automated processing, machine learning, and cloud services—what a powerful combination that is. We are in a golden age of geospatial advancement.
Second is the interest I’ve seen from young people. It’s fun to work alongside organizations like ASPRS, USGIF and its Young Professionals Group, and high schools and colleges with STEM and career technical programs. It’s great to see the interest and excitement on young faces when they realize how impressive geospatial technology is.
Featured Image: High-resolution orthoimagery taken over the African country of Niger. (Credit: Woolpert)