What Is Geospatial Intelligence? A Geographer Explains The Powerful Melding Of Maps And Data

What Is Geospatial Intelligence? A Geographer Explains The Powerful Melding Of Maps And Data
What Is Geospatial Intelligence? A Geographer Explains The Powerful Melding Of Maps And Data

The summer of 2023 has offered several risks to the safety of most Americans, including record-breaking heat in the South, smoke from Canadian wildfires in the North, catastrophic flooding in the Northeast, and a strong storm in the Southeast.

Geospatial intelligence is like a superhero, keeping us safe by gathering data from satellites, sensors, and more. This is fantastic news for governments and organizations working hard to protect our communities.

To assist in determining when, where, and how much a danger is likely to materialize, the data is utilized to create maps and simulations that are updated in real time. This knowledge may be used by people, government authorities, or both to make wise judgments.

Disasters sudden and slow

Geospatial intelligence has long played a role in emergency planning and response. For instance, the National Hurricane Centre keeps a close eye on the location, development, and path of tropical cyclones. It is easier for authorities to disperse resources and people, issue storm warnings, and issue evacuation orders when they have precise information on the time, position, and severity of a particular hurricane. Geospatial intelligence is a crucial resource for disaster recovery and search-and-rescue operations. The amount of damage and the people impacted, for instance, were promptly determined using maps and aerial pictures in the immediate aftermath of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that devastated Turkey and Syria in February 2023. They also assisted first responders in setting up aid stations,

providing emergency supplies, and locating entry points in the transit system to rescue people.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) releases air quality maps, which are especially helpful when smoke from wildfires blankets significant areas of the United States.

Monitoring the environment is another application for geospatial intelligence. Human health and security depend on a stable environment. Scientists and government representatives may predict and get ready for potential disturbances by keeping an eye on temperature, precipitation, snowpack, and polar ice.

What Is Geospatial Intelligence? A Geographer Explains The Powerful Melding Of Maps And Data
What Is Geospatial Intelligence? A Geographer Explains The Powerful Melding Of Maps And Data

For instance, knowing a region’s temperature profiles—its historical, present, and projected temperatures—can tell you when, where, and how much an event like a heat wave would likely affect that region. Heat waves frequently cause discomfort in people, higher energy needs, and crop loss. Threats to human safety and security are projected to rise in tandem with climate change’s intensification of extreme weather occurrences.

Military and civilian logistics

Another example where geospatial information has contributed is the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. A commercial satellite photography business named Maxar Technologies was the first to identify the 40-mile-long Russian ground troop convoy that was moving towards Kyiv in February 2022.

Commercial satellite businesses now play a crucial role in distributing this sort of information to the public, whereas formerly governments could decide whether to disseminate intelligence-related material or not. Geospatial intelligence functions as an extension of the free press in this way.

Global supply chains, logistics, and transportation are additional industries that employ geospatial intelligence. The GPS, which produces geographic data, powers the world economy. Governments, corporations, and individuals have access to accurate information about the time, position, and destination of ships and cargo thanks to GPS. As a result, processes become more dependable and consistent, increasing efficiency.

Additionally assisting with the introduction of autonomous cars is geospatial intelligence. City planners and engineers can identify marks and objects on the ground, such as bicycle lanes and traffic direction, using high-resolution photography with a resolution of around a foot (30 cm) per pixel. These developments support the construction of communities that are safer, wiser, more effective, and better connected.

The creation, usage, and assessment of digital twins is yet another use of geospatial intelligence. Buildings or cities, for example, might have virtual representations called “digital twins” that imitate their features and can be updated in real time to reflect the systems’ changing conditions.

What Is Geospatial Intelligence
What Is Geospatial Intelligence

In many civilian and military contexts, digital twins are being employed to enhance decision-making. They help forecast results and model changes. By mimicking weather and topography to assist military and peacekeepers in developing and implementing strategies, digital twins have shown to be quite successful in conflict contexts.

Growing need

There is a greater demand than ever for geospatial intelligence. By the end of the century, the average temperature is predicted to rise by 1.1 to 5.4 degrees Celsius, or 2 to 9.7 degrees Fahrenheit. By 2100, there will be 11 billion people on the planet, and metropolitan areas will be denser and more vulnerable to natural calamities. Geospatial intelligence offers useful information to aid in maintaining the safety of individuals and communities, whether recreating the past, characterizing the present, or forecasting the future.

Unsurprisingly, it is anticipated that the geospatial intelligence sector will increase from a US$61 billion business in 2020 to more than $209 billion in 2030. Geospatial intelligence will become more crucial in achieving a secure, stable, and informed future as the world continues to change quickly.


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