EVOLUTION OF THE CORE AND EMERGING AREAS

Education and training in the core and emerging areas is provided primarily by universities and colleges, so the evolution of these areas as academic endeavors directly influences the supply of graduates with NGA-relevant skills. Disciplinary change has significantly modified the content and educational profile of NGA’s core areas over the past several decades. For example, GIS has been transformed from software systems developed by a few commercial vendors to a wide range of web services supported by open standards. The focus of geospatial analysis has shifted from supporting GIS applications to using space-time analytic measures and large amounts of data to study the dynamics of human and physical systems. Advances in sensors and image processing are yielding increasingly detailed remote sensing imagery, and sensors are starting to be linked into sensor webs, which offer new ways to monitor and explore environments remotely. More and better sensors and improved processing capabilities are also producing more detailed images of the Earth’s interior and its magnetic and gravitational fields. The resulting changes in curricula have generally taken place within the traditional university departments for remote sensing, geophysics, and GIS and geospatial analysis.

In contrast, disciplinary change in the other core areas has led to name changes, overlaps in content or methods, and/or moves to different departments. Digital imagery and automated processing have brought the methods of digital photogrammetry close to those of remote sensing. The digital transition has profoundly affected cartography by providing online methods (e.g., interactive maps) and new graphical techniques (e.g., geovisualizations) to illustrate and communicate spatial information beyond the paper map. In response, university curricula have shifted from cartography to geographic information science, a broader field encompassing the science and technology of geographic information. Traditional cartographic training in map production and the principles of graphic display have been replaced by training to analyze spatial patterns and to represent them effectively on maps and charts, often using GIS. This shift has narrowed the differences among cartography, GIS, and geospatial analysis.

Geodesy and photogrammetry were used extensively by military and intelligence agencies in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Automation and the increased use of other methods (e.g., remote sensing, geospatial analysis) led to substantial reductions both in the number of photogrammetry and geodesy specialists in military and intelligence occupations and in the academic programs that produced them. Most important is the decline in photogrammetry, which is in danger of disappearing as a specialized course of study in universities. Geodesy, which underpins a wide range of civil applications (e.g., surveying, navigation, environmental monitoring), continues to be taught at several universities, although degrees are offered mainly at the master’s and doctorate levels. At the undergraduate level, geodesy and photogrammetry have largely been incorporated into geomatics programs, which cover the science, engineering, and art of collecting and managing geographically referenced information.

By their nature, the emerging areas are still developing as areas of research and training, and the academic infrastructure (e.g., professional societies, journals) to support their development is in its infancy. Only a handful of universities offer research programs in emerging areas and even fewer offer degree programs. Most of the programs are interdisciplinary, and student training is provided largely through individual courses often scattered among different university departments.

SUPPLY OF EXPERTISE IN GEOSPATIAL INTELLIGENCE FIELDS

The first task of the committee was to estimate the supply of experts in the core and emerging areas now and over the next 20 years. NGA draws on two sources of experts for its scientist and analyst positions: (1) new graduates in relevant fields of study, and (2) individuals working in occupations that require similar knowledge and/or skills. The committee obtained statistics on these sources from the Department of Education, which tracks the number of degrees conferred in more than 1,000 fields of study, and by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which tracks the number of jobs in more than 800 occupations. Unfortunately, the statistics are not ideal for addressing the task because the core and emerging areas are either embedded within broader fields of study and occupations or they span several



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement