Hybrid of Social, Mobile and Human Geography is Driving Future of GEOINT Tradecraft

Published on December 3, 2013

The rise of social media, mobile solutions and the idea of humans being sensors are driving the next wave of strategy and innovation for the GEOINT tradecraft. With the convergence of new sensors and social analytics, it is possible for defense organizations to access multi-source data for enhanced decision-making.

In addition, as this Defense Systems article points out, the 2013-2017 National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) Strategy calls for using both traditional and non-traditional geospatial sources.

We are seeing more terrorist organizations using social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to communicate their efforts in a highly brazen fashion. In response, many U.S. defense and intelligence organizations are using the right data analytic tools for mining this data to gain a better operational picture of enemy activity.

Agencies like FEMA have been ahead of the curve when it comes to leveraging social media for disaster response. At GEOINT 2011, FEMA Director Craig Fugate shared concrete examples of how the agency mined social media to advance response efforts before, during and after Hurricane Irene.

All of this supports the rise of Activity-Based Intelligence (ABI), which focuses on events, movements and transactions in a given area – as opposed to specific targets. In essence ABI is the convergence of big data analytics with open source information that provides us with a 360-degree view of our adversaries.

NGA Director Letitia Long said the agency is using ABI to “identify patterns, trends, networks and relationships hidden within large data collections from multiple sources: full-motion video, multispectral imagery, infrared, radar, foundation data, as well as SIGINT, HUMINT and MASINT information.”

The foundation of this multi-dimensional approach is to provide the best intelligence possible to analysts. Extending beyond the former mindset of identifying key targets on a map, this new frontier extends much deeper and provides the insights our nation needs to support both the warfighter and disaster response.

← Back