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GeoIntelligence India 2013: GeoInt Essential for Security

<< The seventh edition of the annual defence conference GeoIntelligence India 2013, held in New Delhi recently, was a great success >>

Describing timely availability, integrity and security of information as a major challenge before the security agencies, Admiral DK Joshi, Chief of Naval Staff, Indian Navy, said, “There is a need to harness the potential of geospatial information by developing applications in the military domain,” adding, “The challenge is to integrate the data produced by different organisations and create applications in the military domain.”Admiral Joshi was speaking at the seventh edition of the annual defence conferencecum- exhibition, GeoIntelligence India 2013, held in New Delhi recently.

Acknowledging that geospatial technology is a great facilitator of network centric operations, both at the operational and tactical level, Lt Gen Anil Chait, GOCin- C, Central Command, Indian Army, recommended a geospatial framework for the country. However, he said to facilitate and support such a framework, India needs a national communication network that can leverage on a national information grid to harness national power.

Sharing the industry perspective, Kaushik Chakraborty, Vice President, Hexagon India said that for the first time in the history of warfare, there is no excuse for taking a wrong decision citing the lack of information at the right time. In this period of transition and partnerships, it is important to take advantage of the legacy systems, work on them to build new platforms with the right use of technology.

Plenary Sessions
India plans to create three new tri-service commands, headed by three-star generals or equivalent, for Space, Cyber and Special Operations. The plenary sessions for the conference were thus structured accordingly.

Weaponisation of Space
Gp Capt RK Singh, IAF, Senior Research Fellow, United Service Institution of India, observed that “China’s aggressive posturing against India necessitates review of security implications of our space assets and development of space weapons to protect them,” with space weaponisation becoming both urgent and a necessity. Brig (Dr) Arun Sahgal (Retd), Director – Forum for Strategic Initiative, deliberated upon militarisation versus weaponisation. Calling space ‘the new frontier,’ he said that militarisation of space implies developing and deploying assets in space; and is aimed at enhancing military surveillance and target acquisition. The session was chaired by Air Marshal SB Deo, DG Air (Ops), Indian Air Force, who explained the relative advantages and disadvantages of kinetic kill vs electronic kill in ASAT.

Cyber Warfare
Prof. V.S. Subrahmanian from Center for Digital International Government, Computer Science Dept. & UMIACS, University of Maryland, presented his views on the concept of vulnerability where in an attacker takes advantage of a code to exploit technologies related to monitoring networks for known attacks, unknown attacks and social media attacks. Lt Gen Gautam Banerjee, (Retd), former Chief of Staff, Central Command, described the rational interpretation of the terminology ‘Cyber Warfare’ in Indian context. He focussed on finding appropriate definitions, identification of the nature of the threat and courses of action to secure own cyber-space. Presenting his views on geolocation in cyberwar, Cdr Mukesh Saini (Retd), Former National Information Security Coordinator, Government of India (GoI), recommended inclusion of cyberwar in national cyber security policy, evolution of cyber warfare doctrine and development of capacities to implement such doctrine and penetration tools indigenously. Chaired by Lt Gen Rajesh Pant, Commandant MCTE, the session witnessed one of the most interactive question and answer rounds of the conference.

Special operations
“Special forces cannot succeed unless they have the intelligence that geospatial technology provides,” said Maj Gen RK Malhotra (Retd), National Security Council Secretariat. His views were echoed by Christopher K Tucker, who represented OGC at the event. He said, “Geospatial technology helps build trust,’ adding, “Special forces are the highest users of geointelligence.” Wg Cdr Satyam Kushwaha, National Security Council Secretariat, talked about the requirements and challenges of security agencies, “We need a 3D system that is capable of handling all kinds of maps, is designed for Indian conditions and can be used by all the three forces,” he said. “GIS is not about maps, it is about what we can do with maps,” said John Day, Director-Global, Defence Esri, USA, who talked about the need to build intelligent systems which can communicate with each other. Lt Gen PC Katoch (Retd), former DGIS, Indian Army, who chaired the session, stressed upon the need for India to build its capabilities in the geospatial sector to support special operations.

Guest Address
Shambhu Singh, Joint Secretary – North East, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), GoI, spoke about the importance of geotech in internal security and explained how the technology helped solve insurgency in Tripura.

The role of GIS in crime analytics was highlighted by S. Suresh Kumar, Joint Secretary – Centre States, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India, who discussed the initiatives taken by the MHA in implementing GIS in crime analytics.

Technical Sessions

Internal Security and Border Management

Chair: Lt Gen NB Singh, Director General, Electronics and Mechanical Engg., Indian Army

“Conflict is all about people,” said Brig Xerses Adrianwalla, Chief of CIS and Group Security, Mahindra & Mahindra, who explained the importance and limitations of humans in the collection and analysis of geointelligence. Speaking about the increasing use of geotech by terrorists in planning their attacks, Lokhnath Behera, Inspector General of police (Intelligence, Operations, Policy and Coordination), NIA, emphasised the need of use of geospatial technology for internal security. While Manoj Agarwal, IG, Gujarat Police, explained how satellite imagery was successfully used to stop intrusion at Harami Nala in Gujarat; Dr Sandeep Goyal, Advisor, MPCOST, drew the attention of the gathering towards security challenges facing the state of Madhya Pradesh like illegal migration, red corridor etc, and said that the state police is planning to develop a geoint decision support system in the state. Prof VS Subrahmanian, meanwhile, introduced audience to the new field of ‘geospatial abduction,’ in which geospatial technology is being used to predict locations of IED weapons caches and/ or high value targets (HVTs) associated with IED attacks.

Maritime Security

Chair: Rear Admiral DM Sudan, ACNS (Air), Indian Navy (IN)

Space– based surveillance forms the backbone of Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA). This was the message that was strongly communicated by one and all present in the session dedicated to maritime security. Prof Guy Thomas, Advisor, C-SIGMA Centre; Chairman, Global Maritime Awareness Institute for Safety, Security & Stewardship, explained in detail how space-based Automatic Identification System (S-AIS) enhances the MDA in his talk on “Collaboration in Space for International Global Maritime Awareness.” His views were echoed by Cmde Ranjit Rai (Retd), Former Director, Naval Operations & Vice President, Indian Maritime Foundation, who talked about the advantages of technology in context of Indian Navy. He praised the Navy for the way it has enhanced India’s coastal security following 26/11 attacks. Talking about the role, responsibilities and challenges faced by IN, Captain Rajiv Ashok, Director, Naval Operations, IN, said that the force is looking at building capabilities in S-AIS, NCW, mine counter-measures, etc.

Maritime Survey

Chair: Rear Admiral KM Nair, NM Joint Chief Hydrographer, National Hydrographic Department

Speaking about the application of hydrography as an effective tool for national development, Cdr Sajeev K Nair, National Hydrographic Office, Dehradun, said that there is an urgent need to produce accurate nautical charts on which navigation and other related activities are dependent. K M Sivakholundu / Project Director, Coastal & Environmental Engineering Group, National Institute of Ocean Technology gave a presentation on ‘co-tidal model’ for Gulf of Gujarat, and briefed the listeners about the methodology of preparation of a model along with the challenges faced in case of a difficult terrain. While presentation on applications of high resolution bathymetric mapping of the Indian exclusive economic zone was given by Abhishek Tyagi / Scientist-B, National Centre for Antarctic and Ocean Research, Goa, Dr V V L N Sarma, National Hydrographic Office, Dehradun, dwelled on the significance of electronic charting standards and interoperability issues in Marine GIS environment.

Image Interpretation and terrain Modelling

Chair: Maj Gen Girish Kumar, Commandant Army Digital Mapping Centre (ADMC), Bengaluru

The importance of imagery in enhancing ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) capabilities of security agencies was the crux of the presentation of Neeta Trivedi, Head – Aerial Image Exploitation Division, ADE, DRDO. She briefed the audience about the work done/ ongoing work in this direction by ADE. Her presentation was followed by Shailesh Shankar, Manager- Sales Engineering, Asia Pacific, DigitalGlobe, who spoke about the company’s capabilities in image interpretation. Explaining the importance of terrain for soldiers, Murali Mohan of Mobiterra Solutions introduced the audience to the solutions developed by his company which help forces in developing accurate 3D models of terrains.

Geointelligence enablers

Chair: Lt Gen SM Mehta, Commandant MCEME

The session witnessed speakers talking about various sensors and sensor platforms – Maj Gen T M Mhaisale, (Retd), Senior Advisor Electronics MNC and Former Commander HQ Technical Group EME, deliberated upon networking sensors and platform weapons; Lt Col Sarvanan of Indian Army spoke about the importance of satellites in national security and search and rescue; and Anand Santhanam, Director Sales – Asia Pacific, Geospatial eXploitation Products Group, BAE Systems, deliberated upon the role of UAVs in aiding tactical warfare. Dr Rakesh Malhotra of Fayetteville State University and USGIF observed that social media is a great leveller of information and it can be extended with “geo” to derive “GeoSocial.” While Brig Rahul Bhonsle (Retd), Director – Security Risks Asia, discussed exploitation of geointelligence in the Indian operational environment, Dr Narayan Panigrahi, Scientist ‘F’, CAIR, spoke about the robust computational techniques for computation of geospatial data registered temporally and geometrically.

Product Lifecycle Management

Chair: Brig Raju K Subramani, Indian Army

Brig Raju elaborated upon the relevance of geointelligence to product lifecycle management, saying, capturing geoinformation during the exploitation stage will impact everything else. Balaji Rangachari, Vice President –Business Consulting Group, Ramco Systems, discussed the integration of GIS and analytics with MRO for effective decision making, and how GIS can be used for a number of purposes like mission planning, peacekeeping operations, modelling, etc.

Network Centric Warfare (NCW)

Chair: Brig AS Nagra (Retd)

Brig Nagra spoke about the advantages of NCW like information dominance, shared battle space awareness, lock out of enemy`s options, etc. The challenges, that need to be addressed, according to him, include overestimating human capacity, underestimation of enemy’s capabilities, in sufficient situational awareness, and so on. Anil Pant, Sr DGM (D&E/NCS), BEL, elaborated on how situational awareness can be ensured through net centric operations. He described the need to deliver right information to the right place at the right time as the fundamental requirement for carrying out an effective operation.

Data Infrastructure – Interoperability and Security FWof Data

Chair: Maj Gen (Dr) R Siva Kumar, CEO, NSDI

Lt Col Anupam Tiwari, HQ IDS, Indian Army, talked about spatial big data and challenges like security, data storage and input validation. While Dr M K Munshi / Chair, OGC India Forum, focussed on OGC’s approach towards the propagation and implementation of open standards, Chris Tucker, CEO, Map Story Foundation, talked about the growing agreement on standards in defence and intelligence, and Adimulam Vinay Babu, Sr. Manager Defence and Public Safety, Intergraph, spoke about interoperability and commonality in systems.

Organised by Geospatial Media and Communications, the seventh edition of the two-day conference revolved around the theme, ‘Geospatial – Force Multiplier for Modern Warfare’.