The annual GEOINT Symposium took place this year at San Antonio, Texas. The GEOINT Symposium is the largest gathering of geospatial intelligence professionals and is hosted annually by the the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF). The conference has evolved over the years from bringing industry and government experts together to additionally showcasing the latest emerging Geospatial technology to answer the today's and tomorrow's problems for government and commercial. This year the industry assesses the advancement of innovation with the theme: Human-Machine Teaming & Innovation Yield Mission Success.
Keynote Speaker Presentations:
GEOINT Forward opened the event Sunday morning with a number of key speakers to talk on a variety of topics. Quantum Computing was a focus in the morning with companies such as Strangeworks and ColdQuanta, Inc describing the technology and their potential applications to the geospatial audience. Quantum technology is still in its infancy as it applies to the geospatial community but such presentations may indicate that it could become a major theme in five years building off the scaling needs of machine processing and artificial intelligence. Other speakers discussed the use cases of Augmented reality, the challenges of machine learning, and how machine learning is applied to scientific exploration missions of space.
Other Notable Speakers:
Lisa Porter, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.
Chris Edwards, founder and CEO at the The Third Floor
Sue Gordon, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence
Below we have linked the keynote speaker sessions recorded by Trajectory Magazine.
The exhibit floor was bustling with attendees. However it is notable that the exhibit floor seemed a bit smaller compared to past years. Some of the bigger vendors such as Maxar, BAE Systems, and AGI appeared to be less generalized and more focused on mission applications and intelligent marketing when it came to their booth presentation. It was clear to see how their products are integrated with buzz word technologies such as object detection and machine learning.
St Louis Outreach
One of the bigger highlights of GEOINT was the outreach efforts by the city of St Louis. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) is currently constructing a 712,000-square-foot office building on 97 acres located in the historic St. Louis Place neighborhood at the intersection of Jefferson and Cass avenues. Currently NGA’s St Louis occupies a small presence downtown near the Budweiser Brewery in what was historical a Arsenal Manufacturing and storage facility dating back to the early 1800s. Because of the massive increase in personnel and visibility the new campus brings the city of St Louis recognizes growth opportunities for the local region and with it the need to educate the local community and businesses.
The outreach effort is so important to the city that the mayor of St Louis even made an appearance reinforcing their dedication in ensuring the success of their partnership with the NGA. This investment is backed by USGIF with the 2023 and 2025 GEOINT Symposiums hosted in St Louis. More information on NGA’s new headquarter’s, NGA West, can be found here:
Below you can watch an interview with the St Louis Team’s Courtney Mueller who discusses what this outreach is and what it means to the city.
The Rise of RF
RF/SIGINT companies showed a interesting increase that will prove beneficial to the GEOINT community. The combining of this signal data with traditional imagery and maps helps to create a better “picture” of what is going on in your area of interest. After the 9/11 commission report was published it highlighted that agencies weren’t sharing data and working well together. The same could be said for the commercial world and sharing of technologies and assets that potentially could yield interesting correlations thus potentially leading to profit.
We met with several of these companies including Hawkeye 360, Spire, and a new company on the block, Kleos. Most of the examples given by the companies displayed ship tracking using RF (Radio Frequency) as this is a relatively easy to track signal with very little RF interference in the open ocean. As these companies begin to explore RF from various emitters including cell towers and satellite dishes, for instance, the amazing benefits of signals paired with traditional geospatial products will begin to show its value to governments and commercial companies. Kleos, a Luxembourg based company, will be one to watch as they recently got approval from the ESA (European Space Agency) to put four satellites in orbit. The four cubesats will be in LEO (Low Earth Orbit) in August. We got the chance to interview Peter Round, Chairman, and Executive Director and ask him a few questions. Video Below.
Machine Learning Companies
The big theme of this year’s GEOINT Symposium is machine learning. Many of the companies at the conference integrated some aspect of the this year’s buzz word technology. Several new notable companies in this area observed on the exhibit floor are Croud AI, Percipient AI, and Kitware.
Crowd AI advertises imagery object detection and classification algorithms to assess global change as it happens using machine learning, computer vision and human intelligence to maximize value aerial, drone and satellite imagery.
Percipient AI, similar to Crowd AI, uses computer vision techniques to identify vehicles and other object types on satellite and aerial imagery. Percipient may even go the extra mile but thinking about how the output the results needs to interact with the end user experience by allowing the user to generate reports based off change over time.
Kitware is a software research and development company. Their core areas of expertise are computer vision, data and analytics, high-performance computing and visualization, medical computing, and software process. Their customers range from startups to Fortune 500 companies and include government and academic laboratories worldwide. They have built their business on open source software. They have built a strong reputation by partnering with leading organizations to create and support large, collaborative, and open communities that use and improve their open source software platforms. These platforms enable them to focus on innovation and deliver customized solutions cost-effectively, without vendor lock-in, and with their customers maintaining full ownership and control of their products.
A number of the medium size companies such as Orbital Insight and Descartes Labs demonstrated their evolved methodologies and and techniques allowing them to create a more streamlined workflow for their customers. This was observed with Orbital Insight’s ability to process detections over a large regional area. Descartes had an impressive demo that highlighted how they are able to look for complex facility patterns such as Surface-to-Air Missile Sites and identify them over the entire country of North Korea. This has huge potential in quickly cataloging existing facilities and then annotating change as each of them as scale. Periodically running such detection algorithms over a country would give insights to new SAM systems as long as they were the same type.
URSA aggregates RADAR from a variety of data providers acting as a reseller for those who are looking to buy RADAR imagery and as a company developing advanced imagery analytics on top of imagery. On the floor we had the pleasure of speaking to Julie Baker, COO, and Daniela Moody P.h.D., Vice President of Engineering who gave us a deeper insight into what URSA is up to in the video below.
Every year the GEOINT Symposium brings us new insights and an observation of how our industry grows and evolves. This year was no different. We never have time to cover all the great companies and their projects but we hope our coverage brings you increased awareness of a thriving industry. We look forward to seeing everyone in Tampa, Florida next year.