BOX 2.1
GEOINT as Defined by NGA

It is coming to be known as “a powerful new analytic discipline—the product of increasingly complex sources which, together, are greater than the sum of the parts. GEOINT is emerging as the most valuable tool for envisioning and predicting activity around the world. It serves everyone—from the White House to the pilothouse, from the Situation Room to the ready room” (Schultz, 2004).

Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper, in “Imagine the Power of GEOINT” (Clapper, 2004), says, “GEOINT is about more than pictures. GEOINT makes possible in-depth assessments and judgments based on the information that is gleaned from visual depictions. In short, GEOINT is more than imagery, maps, charts and digital displays showing where the bad guys are. GEOINT at its best is the analysis that results from the blending of all of the above into a dynamic, composite view of features or activities—natural or manmade—on Earth.

This brings us to the official definition of GEOINT: the exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information to describe, assess, and visually depict physical features and geographically referenced activities on the Earth that have national security implications.”

evolution of GEOINT toward this broader capability, which is defined as knowledge gained from geospatial data through the application of geospatial techniques and by skilled interpretation, in which the location and movement of activities, events, features, and people play a key role. It is the goal of this report to show what areas of research should be addressed to achieve this evolution to GEOINT2.

With the emergence of GEOINT as critical not only to the NGA, but also to national security and the intelligence world as a whole, NGA’s leadership has been engaged in overhauling the agency to reflect the security needs of a complex post-9/11 world. NGA’s new mission is to “provide timely, relevant, and accurate geospatial intelligence in support of national security.” GEOINT at NGA includes information on weather, order of battle, intelligence reports, navigation safety, and other forms of intelligence. These information sources are placed into geospatial context using standard data products, including imagery, baseline intelligence data, digital topography and bathymetry, feature information, and gravity data. As is common in geographic information science, the underlying spatiotemporal reference frame or geography acts as a data integrator,

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