The fifth edition of the annual GeoIntelligence Asia conference- cum-exhibition held in New Delhi, India during June 14-15, 2011, turned out to be a huge success with dignitaries from around the globe in attendance. The theme of this year’s event was ‘GIS: Empowering the Warfighter of Tomorrow’.
Presenting the inaugural address, Chief of Army Staff Gen VK Singh said, “We are endeavouring to achieve capabilities for full spectrum dominance in any conflict scenario. The need is to understand and appreciate the impact of geospatial technologies on information operations.” Highlighting the importance of information, he said, “Indian Army looks at information systems that can be used by all the three services.”
Stressing on the importance of structuring the available information, Gen Singh opined that unless operational intelligence, geointelligence and human intelligence are fused together in a format and symbology understood by a common warfighter, information would not be of much utility. Talking about place-based memo, Christopher Tucker, Member United States GeoIntelligence Foundation, said that we need to focus on ‘when’ to understand the problem and come up with solutions. He said, “Geoint is not a stovepipe and cylinder of excellence but a foundation on which all other info systems can leverage on.”
Fusion: Patrick Warfle, Director of Military Support, NGA, US, observed that users have become contributors and elaborated the new and emerging platform of geoint like social networking websites, crowd sourcing and human as sensors which provide crucial information. Talking about a new emerging practice of human terrain analysis, he said that it complements the agency’s existing geoint capability.
Dr R Ramchandran, Centre Director, National Technical Research Organisation, India, observed that fusion strategy is crucial for such capabilities. Col Sunil Mishra, Director, Battlefield Management System, DGIS, Indian Army, observed that geoint enables users to go beyond traditional thinking. For instance, search for Osama Bin Laden was not only confined to the Kabul border but also reached quite far from the border to Abbottabad.
Col John Kedar, Chief of Staff, Headquarters Engineer-in-Chief (Army), UK MoD observed, “We talk about every soldier being a sensor. But the question is how do we bring sensor and soldier together?” Talking about future character of conflict, Col Kedar said, “The need is to shift emphasis from platform and C2 nodes towards better understanding.” He added, “We need to understand the people we are dealing with, there is a need to have information on human geography.”
Policy: Discussing national mapping policies, stalwarts proposed that there should be an agency in India to bring together all spatial data like census maps, wetland maps, geological maps etc. Dr. Prithvish Nag, Director, National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation (NATMO), India, supported this proposal and added that it is important to deal with emerging threats like terrorism.
Common Symbology: Symbology is a highly debatable issue in an age where every force aspires to achieve net-centricity. Thus, it was one of the topics of heated discussion at the conference. Lt Col Rohit Gupta surprised everyone by saying that “symbology generation tool should be independent of GIS or its area of operation. There isn’t much related to GIS except location.” Col Alan Mosher (US Army – retd), Director – Strategy, DRS Tactical Systems, stressed on the need to have a common warfighting symbology under one MoD standard. Raising an important point, he said, “We have symbols in different colours but what if the person viewing those symbols is colour blind.” He argued, “Graphics should support battlefield planning and management.”
Asymmetric Warfare: “The objective of asymmetric warfare is to force us to spread our resources so that we become vulnerable to their attacks,” said Sanjay Sahay, IPS, Inspector General of Police, Police Computer Wing Bangalore, India. He observed, “Intelligence can go wrong but geospatial intelligence cannot go wrong. If we get an imagery of 20cm or less resolution, we can solve almost 90 percent of law and order problems in the world.”
Situational awareness is essential for successful military operations in all type of warfares including asymmetric warfare. One of the ways is to use large scale digital maps, especially keeping in mind the requirements of warfighters in battleground, said Manosi Lahiri, Managing Director, ML InfoMap. Some of the key benefits of large scale digital maps include high resolution satellite images displaying current scenario, the ability to change scales without loss of data and the option of geo-tagging of photos and videos.
Predictive Analysis: Predictive analysis is emerging as an effective means for meeting most of the security challenges. GeoEye Analytics division provided 99 percent accurate predictions of criminal activities to the New York Police, claimed Andy Stephenson, Senior Director Asia Pacific, GeoEye, US.
Target Recognition: Group Capt K P Gowd, Director, Indian Air Force, proposed a constellation of LEO geo-stationary satellites, an aero spacebased platform for target recognition in near real time.
According to Capt Gowd, the proposed constellation will have a mixture of optical, SAR and IR payload to achieve 24X7 surveillance capability in all weather conditions. These satellites will have on board capability to identify and recognise the target. This will be attained by configuring the satellite to have an onboard/ ground based data processing capability. Lt. Col. (Retd) Offir Dor, Elbit Systems, Israel, demonstrated how effective geointelligence solutions can be when live video (captured by UAVs) is embedded with geospatial data.
Hyperspectral Imagery: Maj. Gen TM Mhaisale, VSM, Cdr HQ Technical Group EME, Indian Army, explained how hyperspectral imagery covers the entire electromagnetic spectrum. According to him, the best characteristic of the imagery is its ability to detect objects’ chemical properties. It enables creation of 3D images and can detect low contrast targets. He also talked about ‘Virtual Fence’ which is a combination of multiple sensors and provides comprehensive coverage of land, shoreline and airspace.
Conclusion: Geoint 2011 not only realised the need of a single module from where information can be filtered to different departments as per their requirements. It explored how latest technologies can be effective in different situations like target recognition, situational awareness, predictive analysis, etc.