Monday, October 17, 2011

GEOINT 2011 Day 1


SAN ANTONIO, October 17, 2011

Update: Watch the speeches here on GEOINT TV

One of the smartest generals I know, LtGen Paul Van Riper USMC Ret, once told me that the best way to do intelligence was to present the commander with a story. A picture to represent the story would be that much more useful again, he told me. By way of example, Gen Van Riper uses the metaphor of the morning weather report. In the military and aviation communities you can get a data report of pages of numbers to tell you exactly what is happening around you. In the civilian world you get a pretty girl in front of a moving map and depending on which station you watch she may or may not dance as she tells her story about the days weather.

Naturally the military and intelligence communities need more data and more precision than you do before you leave the house for the office each morning. So the question becomes how can you fuse all the myriad intelligence data streams in such a way that they make sense to a warfighter (or senior decision maker) who may be under tremendous stress? Intelligence in the digital age presents all kinds of opportunities. In ones ands zeros - not just satellite imagery and enemy radio coms, but also all kinds of data about people and the terrain that they inhabit - can be brought together to form a picture. That's what geospatial intelligence is all about.

All this week MIL INT will be reporting from GEOINT 2011 in San Antonio. This will be a first for the blog. Until now, MIL INT has issued a series of position papers after considered reflection (usually :)) and not immediate reports of the kind one might normally find on a blog. MIL INT will likely merge analysis and reporting for this conference. But it will be a work in progress as the event and MIL INTs reporting on the event unfolds. So far its been a very slick event - you know you are at a new level of conference when you get to your hotel room and the conference has its own television station with CNN production quality conducting interviews with military and intelligence folks. I wonder what tourists visiting town and staying at the hotel might think as they enter their rooms to watch a UAV feed and a general commenting on it!

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