All Data is Geospatial: Branching Beyond Defense and Intelligence to the Commercial Arena

Published on February 27, 2014

When Director of National Intelligence James Clapper stated that, “everyone and everything has to be somewhere,” he makes the case for all data being geospatial, a premise that is the foundation of the entire industry. That geospatial notion is also the basis for innovation at Thermopylae Sciences & Technology, as is the tenet that data is best used when it can be seen and understood in context.

That concept is supported by data visualization, a marriage between style and substance, and it is now extending beyond defense and intelligence into the commercial arena.

Data visualization isn’t new. Charts, graphs and maps helped present data before the first Viewgraph went on an overhead projector decades ago. What is new is an understanding that data presentation doesn’t have to be limited to static charts, graphs and maps, and that elements of data can be enhanced so that they aren’t just supporting components of the presentation process but are the end product itself … or, more properly, a dynamic product that has no end.

What is also new is that devices such as the smart phone and tablet computer that allow the user increased mobility also generate a need for data visualization on the run.

Tools such as Google Earth and Maps allow the military to present intelligence in a more readily understood way to a wider audience that is comprised of digital natives and those that started migrating to mobile devices and the web later in life. These tools were developed into platforms on which layered data provides context for military operations, disaster and humanitarian relief and logistics. This same premise can be embraced by major retail organizations, utilities, and many others.

That context was enhanced by TST’s iSpatial, which Southern Command used to develop the User Defined Operating Picture as a platform on which layers of data from relief agencies, social media and other contributors were coordinated to aid humanitarian relief after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

The State Department has used an iSpatial product to chart situational awareness around the globe, and the Army used the technology in its Windshear program, which earned C4ISR Journal’s Innovation Program of the Year in 2012.

Commercial concerns have seized upon those accomplishments and advanced iSpatial for use in asset tracking, store location, infrastructure visualization and other aspects of the for-profit process. Users include a major global products manufacturer, a national retailer, and a major entertainment and news outlet, among others. Mobile operations have streamlined data presentation with TST’s Ubiquity, using it to create malleable, dynamic, custom applications on the fly with widget-based functionality.

It’s important to understand that these capabilities don’t depart from the basic tenet of data visualization being essential to understanding. It’s the best way to acknowledge the geospatial basis that “everybody and everything has to be somewhere.”

Now, thanks to commercial organizations embracing these types of solutions, it also means that “all business assets have to be somewhere,” and can be tracked and managed in a highly effective manner.

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