Given the exponential growth of GEOINT data, the increasing complexity of missions, and the rapid evolution of technology, it begs the question: what is the field’s future direction? As emerging technology advances, GEOINT practitioners must determine how to utilize people and technology effectively.
The report, GEOINT: Surveying the 10-Year Horizon, recently released by MeriTalk in partnership with the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF), Hitachi Vantara Federal, and Rubrik Federal, surveyed 100 Federal government, state and local government, and higher education stakeholders to gather their perspectives on the future state of GEOINT.
What are the key research findings?
At the top of the list of considerations is data. Approximately 70% of respondents say their organization has far more GEOINT data than they can analyze. Officials recognize the need to improve data analytics to extract, mine, and action data to make more intelligent decisions. Some of the sources to enhance data analytics include:
- Treating data as a strategic asset
- Building with customers in mind
- Increasing the use of artificial intelligence (AI), cloud, and high-performance computing
The data challenge starts with improving the ability to ingest the wide variety and velocity of data from disparate sources. It is difficult for GEOINT organizations to correlate data from any source to create the right connections, cleanse it and make it actionable. Organizations recognize that data is only valuable when they have the technology and processes to effectively collect, review and action data from the edge and feed it back to the core. Yet, technology will play a significant role in helping organizations better manage their data, but according to the survey, 82% agree government organizations are underutilizing GEOINT-focused technology. Less than half of stakeholders are confident in their GEOINT-related capabilities to collect, analyze and secure data.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a current survey about data if AI were not a topic. Of those surveyed, 84% agree that accelerating the adoption of AI-enabled GEOINT capabilities is imperative to expedite mission outcomes. Yet, more organizations need strategies to adapt AI technologies and procedures. It’s no surprise that those embracing AI and working to incorporate it into their plan feel more confident about their organization’s future ability to take advantage of more advanced technology that will help them best manage and utilize their data.
In addition to technology improvements, GEOINT leaders see a need to focus on their workforce to develop specific employee capabilities in the areas of critical thinking and data visualization. Technology will help improve data visibility, but GEOINT professionals need to know what questions to ask of their data and how to interpret their data to draw meaningful correlations and make impactful decisions. Only 39% are very confident in their data-driven decision-making.
What do the next ten years look like?
The good news is over 75% of GEOINT stakeholders are optimistic about the future of GEOINT and are already taking steps to plan for the future. Key areas of focus organizations are investing in to prepare for the following years include:
- Evaluated computing, network, and storage needs (46%)
- Increased workforce training (45%)
- Modernized infrastructure (42%)
- Improved cybersecurity hygiene (42%)
- Improved ability to leverage industry-leading technology (41%)
- Enhanced data standards/governance (38%)
- Accelerated cloud adoption (35%)
- Increased use of automation (35%)
- Appointed a leadership team to spearhead our strategy (34%)
- Created a formal strategy for our 10-year vision (33%)
The #1 imperative organizations called out to prepare for the future is to improve the adoption and integration of emerging technologies. Yet, the biggest challenge holding organizations back will be the workforce skills gap they anticipate managing and best leveraging these new technologies. Most technology considerations will be for data analytics and cloud computing solutions.
The future is bright for GEOINT organizations. They are aware of their data’s impact on their organizations and are already thinking about overcoming challenges to access and manage their data effectively. Starting with a plan that best leverages organizations’ people, technology, and processes will help GEOINT organizations best prepare for what is to come.
For more report results and recommendations for GEOINT organizations to address many of the topics outlined in the report, download your copy GEOINT: Surveying the 10-Year Horizon.