What is Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT?)


GEOINT is all about the WHERE!

GEOINT stands for Geospatial Intelligence! All events and behaviors happen somewhere. This somewhere, is referred to as geospatial information. Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) is the usable information and the end result from analyzing geospatial information. For example, if  we analzye your home, the geospatial information is the location of your home on the earth’s surface (latitude and longitude). Simply providing this geospatial information is not intelligence, notably intelligence is derived from analysis.

An example of Geospatial Intelligence will start with an intelligence question such as, how far away is the closest grocery store? Performing geospatial analysis, we determine the distance to the nearest grocery store, travel or route options, travel times, or other impact factors such as traffic conditions or how well lit the travel route may be. In addition to the geospatial data, now you have Geospatial Intelligence! You are empowered to make decisions and chose the route that is right for you. This is a basic example you are probably familiar with since most common mapping services do some of this for you automatically. See, you are already using Geospatial Intelligence! Everything happens somewhere and understanding that somewhere to the fullest extent, is what GEOINT is all about!

Geo Owl Aerial View of Buildings | Geospatial Technologies

Where does Geospatial Intelligence come from?

Geospatial Intelligence is derived by geospatial analysts from spatial data sources to include sensors equipped on satellites or aircraft. Imagery is a common source for goespatial information as it contains spatial metadata and visual information. Furthermore, GEOINT comes from people utilizing advanced tools and sensors to pinpoint this information and perform analysis to answer intelligence questions, make predictions, or enhance understanding.

GEOINT analysts analyze all sorts of imagery and location based intelligence sources to include Full Motion Video, lidar, electro-optical imagery (also referred to as RGB or color imagery), infrared, synthetic aperture radar, hyperspectral, multispectral and ground moving target indicators. Each sensor is chosen carefully to answer specific intelligence questions. For example, if you wanted to understand the nighttime activity of animals in certain locations, a GEOINT analyst will utilize infrared imagery and analyze the thermal signatures of the animals. The Geospatial Intelligence derived from analysis will help you answer questions about the animals.

Geo Owl Geospatial Imagery | Geo Owl LLC

What is Geospatial Intelligence Data?

GEOINT Data refers to “location data” such as latitude and longitude. Data generally references “points” for individual places such as a tree, mailbox, or utility pole. “Lines” are used to reference linear objects such as rivers, roads, or sewer pipes. “Polygons” are used to reference defined areas with boundaries such as lakes, buildings, or football fields. 3D spatial data uses “Z” space information to identify height in addition to the traditional X/Y dimensions.

For example, Light Detecting and Ranging (LiDAR) data mainly consists of point data. LiDAR sensors actively bounce millions of small light beams from the sensor to the target. The location of the return of each individual beam is an X,Y,Z point value and because there are so many individual beams, creating individual points, the LiDAR data can be used to render 3Dimensional digital representations of the collected target. These 3D renders are often referred to as point clouds. See an example of a point cloud below.

LiDar Point Cloud data

What tools or resources are used to collect geospatial intelligence data?

There are many GEOINT resources used to collect geospatial data and vary widely depending on the project. Satellites, drones, uavs, airplanes, helicopters, and even blimps are used to collect geospatial data from above. GEOINT data collection from aerial platforms is generally used to capture data in large areas while sacrificing maximum resolution. Ground platforms such as cars, trucks, handhelds or backpacks are used to collect more precise data for smaller areas.  Sensors attached to these platforms collect RGB (Red Green Blue), IR (Infrared), SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar), RF (Radio Frequency), LiDAR, and even Acoustic intelligence (ACINT) data.

Who benefits from GEOINT?

GEOINT is a broad encompassing field that benefits many industries, organizations, and individuals. It is often referred to as a “horizontal” market as it has applicability into almost every industry. For example, State and Local governments use GEOINT to plan their cities, militaries use GEOINT for situational awareness and insight into operations, and businesses use GEOINT to understand their target markets. Large consumers of GEOINT include most governments and include commercial consumers in Energy, Utilities, Real Estate, Insurance, Transportation, Engineering, Construction, and Agriculture.

What GEOINT analysis does Geo Owl perform?

Geo Owl analysts provide expertise for our customers all across the globe in multiple locations including our offices in Wilmington, NC and Fuquay Varina, NC. Analysts provide our customers with geospatial intelligence analysis and product production. We create products such as change detection, 360’s, slope analysis, landing zones, storyboards, viewshed, custom maps, route analysis, pattern of life, maps and others. Geo Owl is a proven expert for all things geospatial!

Geo Owl Drone Image | Geospatial Intelligence

How do you start a career in Geospatial Intelligence?

Most Geo Owl GEOINT experts start their careers in the military as geospatial or imagery analysts or from geoint courses or education in geography or geospatial science.  Although, there are many ways to get started in your geospatial journey. College programs for remote sensing, geography, or geographic information systems are a great way to get started. The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) also hosts an internship program that is a gateway for many analysts. Geo Owl provides internship and junior level opportunities that are fantastic launching pads for entry level GEOINT-ers.