GeoDigital Helicopter at GEOINT 2011
One excellent feature of the GEOINT Symposium is the diversity of speakers and companies involved in the geospatial intelligence field.
Geospatial intelligence gathering platforms are not just found in satellites and UAVs, but also in helicopters and airplanes. Take for instance the firm GeoDigital. The GeoDigital helicopter pictured above provides Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR) optical remote sensing for the electric and gas pipeline industries in the U.S. and Canada. This technology helps map and image electric and gas lines, including inspection of vegetation and analysis of clearance levels through LiDAR 3D imaging. Neat stuff. This technology hits it home that all kinds of aerospace platforms are critical to providing the geospatial information needed by our commercial and government sectors.
Kicking off the morning keynote was General Douglas Fraser, Commander, U.S. Southern Command. General Fraser provided an overview of SOUTHCOM challenges such as narcotics trafficking, gang problems and disaster relief. SOUTHCOM relied on GEOINT to support its disaster relief operation in the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. One of SOUTCOM’s biggest concerns is that they do not have enough Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capability in their area of operation. Clearly, with an area of operation that encompasses 32 nations and over 14 million square miles, SOUTHCOM will continue to rely on aerospace and GEOINT technologies to meet its mission requirements.
Also speaking today was The Honorable W. Craig Fugate, Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Administrator Fugate discussed the importance of GEOINT in assisting with FEMA’s emergency operations. By providing federal emergency responders with analysis and imagery of disaster areas, GEOINT helps the government better assist the state and local response to hurricanes, flooding and other natural disasters. One area the Administrator mentioned was the growing importance of social media. As social media becomes more widespread, it can actually play an important role in emergency analysis and response. According to FEMA, social media can help provide timely information related to disaster preparedness response and help communicate the agency’s operations to the general public.
Tuesday’s session also included speakers from the U.S. and coalition militaries who described the importance of GEOINT in their collaborative efforts. An afternoon breakout panel featured civilian agency representatives who provided an overview of GEOINT in U.S. Geological Survey, National Guard and homeland security operations.