In the Middle East region geospatial technologies such as high resolution satellite imagery, global positioning system, GIS, aerial photography are moving towards becoming a standard part of the military toolkit. The technologies are emerging as a support to national security.
These resources have brought in the element of rationality in the national security personnel more strongly as they are now able to achieve a higher degree of situational awareness and understanding. Intelligence maps, detailed target analysis, targeting, battle damage assessment products can now be created using geospatial tools. As part of national security efforts, there is now a need to fuse scattered pieces of intelligence into a single environment or end product.
The military is now readying to share the large pool of spatial data with the other government organizations as well as the civilian sector organizations for national development use. The decision makers in uniform believe that the provision of spatial data should be effortless, much like the services of a public works department. Take for example the Military Survey Department of UAE, which was started in 1974 as a small unit to provide the Army with paper maps, and in 90’s realized the need of providing specific products for development purpose to other government organizations and the private sector. The movement is clearly towards making access to spatial data smooth for decision makers in varied sectors.
And finally, the countries of the Middle East region do understand that access to space based systems under foreign control may be denied during a crisis. In this view some significant steps have already been taken by some countries of the region. Iran recently launched its first national satellite ‘Sina-1’. Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain would be launching together the first Islamic Satellite for moon crescent sighting as well as environment monitoring. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will launch in the next few months six mini satellites for a range of applications.
The work has started. There is a need to accelerate the work keeping in broad view the needs of the military sector. This would help in more varied implementations of geospatial technologies. Isn’t it?