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Building credible geointelligence infrastructure for defence

New Delhi, India: The sixth edition of GeoIntelligence Asia 2012 saw coming together of some of the prominent defence experts and technocrats of the country in New Delhi today. The experts had assembled to discuss the need to build a credible geointelligence infrastructure for defence and internal security. 

Plenary 1 – GeoTech: Essential requirement of modern warfare.

Lt Gen K Surendra Nath, GOC-in-C, Army Training Command (ARTRAC), Indian Army, chaired the plenary. Talking about the growing demand of maps in the country, Maj Gen RC Padhi, MOGSGS, Military Survey, Indian Army, said, “There is a tremendous requirement for large-scale maps. In fact, after the success of the DSSDI project, we are being approached by other states as well,” adding, “We will be able to cater to everyone’s data requirements.”

Derek Ireson, Vice President, Defense & Intelligence Solutions Intergraph, USA, spoke about the need to have multi-intelligence data fusion and described data volume, speed and mobility and social media/ threat as some of the major intelligence challenges before the security agencies. He talked about the new ‘Dehazing’ technology and how it provides improved image clarity. The company is also with NGA for developing mobile app for the warfighter, called GeoNames.

N S Shankaranarayana, Senior Director, Government, DigitalGlobe, spoke about the need to provide online on-demand value-added images/ data. “At present, we are capable of delivering imagery with intelligence within 24 hours,” he said, adding, ““We are providing Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) and Digital Surface Models (DSMs) of any place anywhere in the world today.” The company also claims to provide 100 per cent coverage of India. Shankaranarayana , meanwhile stressed to build a robust infrastructure to provide 3D GIS.

Planery 2 – Building GIS ready intelligent data infrastructure
The plenary deliberated upon building a sustainable geospatial infrastructure which would enable intelligent flow of information among all the organisations. Lt Gen Rajesh Pant, VSM, MCTE Commandant, Military Head Quarter of War (Mhow), who chaired the plenary, said, “GIS plays a pivotal role in military domain. Accurate information with spatial tags is needed for efficient decision making.”

Dr R Ramachandran, Centre Director, National Technical Research Organisation, explained the importance of data for an efficient geospatial setup. He said, “Geointelligence is more than just imagery and maps. It consists of imagery, imagery intelligence and geospatial information.” Highlighting some challenges, he said that most of the data is unstructured and is in large volumes. One can overcome this challenge by processing the data and using metadata based preliminary analysis. He further observed that in today’s world, there is a need to create content that can be used by an end user. Ensuring security of this vital data is also a top priority.

Bryn Fosburgh, Sector President, Emerging economies, Trimble Navigation, USA, deliberated upon how data collection is becoming commonplace, quicker and accurate. “Our ability to acquire and generate geospatial data continues to increase exponentially.” He added, “GIS technology is becoming an essential component of all industries.” It is used for transportation and navigation, border management, disaster management, etc. Citing examples from these industries he elaborated how geo data is beneficial for defence and homeland security too. “Not only data but industries should also be interoperable.”

Rakesh Verma, Managing Director, MapmyIndia, India, discussed ways in which GIS infrastructure can be built using GIS-ready data, devices and applications. He said, “GIS ready data is much more than a map as it includes layers of information.” Main components of GIS infrastructure include maps and data, devices, software and applications. The technological pillars to build these three infrastructures include technology for search, technology for direction, technology for navigation and technology for tracking. MapmyIndia products are based on these four technologies which provide solutions for defence and homeland security.

Ashwagosha Ganju, Director, Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE), India said, “Geoint can enhance the mobility of army and common man in mountainous regions. SASE aims to build GIS ready intelligent data infrastructure for mitigation of geo hazards in cryospheric region of Himalayas.” They aim to utilise geo data and satellite imagery for the growth of this region. The rugged terrain, weather conditions, limited working season pose a serious threat to people of this terrain. SASE uses modern technology like UAV, LiDAR, hyperspectral imagery, etc., to get high resolution data of Himalayas.

The chairperson, Lt Gen Rajesh Pant, concluded the session by saying “Technology will continue to change at a faster speed. GIS and mapping technologies are getting enmeshed in every aspect of life.”

Planery 3 – Collaborative approach to common geoinfrastructure

Lt Gen P C Katoch (retd), former DGIS, Indian Army, chaired the session, which witnessed an active participation from both industry and defence forces.
Mark Reichardt, President, Open Geospatial Consortium, USA, spoke about the importance of interoperability. “There are too many problems faced by people when there’s no interoperability. Inability to share information, and difficulty in rapidly mobilising new capabilities are some of the problems,” he said. He also explained the significance of social networking, crowdsourcing and user generated location information in today’s world, and introduced audience to open GeoSMS. Talking about the advantages of open standards, he said, “Standards are like parachutes. They work best when they are open.”

With the help of an example of shipping industry, Manish Choudhary, Managing Director, Pitney Bowes Software India, explained how standardisation can bring evolution in the functioning of an industry. He also talked about neogeography and emphasised the need to embrace crowdsourcing and cloud computing. “Data can be shared. We need to leverage cloud,” he said, adding, “From B2B and B2C, we are now moving towards B2I (business to individuals).”
Brig AS Nagra (retd), spoke about the importance of seamless collaboration in today’s world. Talking about the impediments in collaborative engagements, he stressed on the need to develop interoperability capabilities among all the three forces – Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. He also spoke about the benefits and requirements of NCW “We need to develop an ability to move information instead of people.”

“Defence operational systems cannot be connected on public networks, geospatial data goes beyond imagery and maps and much beyond what’s available in the public domain,” said Col Sunil Mishra, Director – BMS, DGIS, Indian Army. He spoke about how digital revolution has forced the governments throughout the world to shift their focus to e-gov. “You require geoint to make e-gov relevant and updated.” Talking about challenges, he described policy and security paranoia as major challenges before security establishments. “We are talking about cloud nowadays but we do not have connectivity in combat zones. There’s also vast disparity in communication infrastructure at HQs and in combat zones,” he said. 

Source: Our Correspondent