One of the world’s leading geospatial defence experts is in Singapore this week to advise the region’s national security stakeholders how state-of-the-art mapping technology can help support mission-critical operations.
John Day, the Director of National Security at global Geographic Information System (GIS) giant Esri said over the past 12 months, the Asia Pacific region has seen national security incidents of unprecedented scale.
“From transnational security issues in Indonesia, to devastating natural calamities in the Philippines, and geopolitical tensions in the South China Sea– the operational efficiency of national security organisations in the region has been placed under immense scrutiny,” said Mr Day.
“This has prompted many senior decision makers in the defence space to explore tools, such as GIS technology, to enhance current capabilities.”
GIS – or smart mapping technology – integrates and analyses data from multiple operational systems to create a dynamic map-based view of information.
GIS has traditionally been widely used in a military context, however it was regarded as a highly specialised intelligence tradecraft conducted by trained professionals in order to make maps and visualise terrains.
“Now, the technology has become more ubiquitous across entire defence organisations by providing users – even those with non-technical background – with the ability to easily access, analyse, share and contribute geospatial information in real-time, on any type of device,”Mr Day said.
Mr Day said this capability allowed users to gain greater situational awareness and effectively manage ongoing activities.
Beyond the ability to simply plot points on a map, GIS technology features sophisticated spatial analytics capabilities that enable decision makers to look at their data from an entirely new perspective – providing a richer context than static reports and spreadsheets can deliver.
“The Malaysian Airlines MH17 tragedy, for example, shows just how complex the national security mission can be.
“In this instance, GIS technology provided authorities with not only complex analytical and mission planning support across many nations, but was also been used as an important tool for public engagement.”
Mr Day said GIS technology was also extensively used in the Philippines during the Typhoon Haiyan disaster to coordinate response and recovery phases.
“International agencies looked to the technology to provide information to relevant organisations in the Philippines via rapidly established web services during and shortly after the event.
“Through creating a consolidated, map-based view of the disaster, GIS technology provided national and international agencies with greater situational clarity and awareness enabling them to efficiently mobilise their relief efforts.
”The technology was also used in the same way to support relief efforts around the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011,” he concluded.