USGIF hosted two recent events at its new Trajectory Event Center that further demonstrated the power of individuals coming together as a community to discuss mission advances and solutions to pressing problems. These sessions highlighted the fact that our community is full of thinkers and doers who understand the power of collaborating with professionals who represent different backgrounds, experiences, and cultures. When we convene communities of diverse individuals, they can apply critical thinking to develop innovative solutions. The GEOINT Community recognizes the interdisciplinary nature of the challenges it faces and the importance of systems thinking. When combined with increasingly available data, new thinking allows magic to happen.

USGIF Working Group representatives and other interested parties gathered Aug. 27 for the Foundation’s first Working Group Summit to share best practices, summarize progress, and define next steps. Working Groups are a secret sauce of USGIF, and it was clear how participants are coming together to drive to improved, alternative futures. For example, the NRO Industry Advisory Working Group has
a long-term engagement with NRO leadership, who benefit from the group’s continuing, impressive output.

Likewise, representatives and stakeholders in academic GEOINT—to include teachers and students, industry, and government—gathered Sept. 27 and 28 to share ideas at USGIF’s inaugural GEOINTegration Summit. For two days, there was a buzz of excitement as ideas were freely shared. The agenda was full of breadth and depth with varied keynotes and panels. Engaging Q&As were followed by networking breaks in which the conversations continued and relationships were established. 

We explored technology, but more importantly, we endeavored to understand problems with enough context that the technology can more easily align to form the solution. We recognized the need for accurate translation across different subcommunities. We highlighted the importance of communication and the necessary skill to simply explain complexity. JHU’s Jack O’Connor reminded us of the importance of presenting information visually. HiBAR Solutions’ Kevin Jackson reflected on the last 15 years of USGIF Awards and the speed of tradecraft evolution and the exponential nature of current problems. 

Lifelong education allows us to focus our skill development toward the jobs and challenges that excite us. Two impressive students from James Madison University, Patrick Muradaz and Ian Dunton, clearly demonstrated their developing expertise and passion while providing a detailed understanding of Russian Dragonfly cyber threat actors. 

USGIF-accredited universities have awarded more than 1,000 collegiate GEOINT Certificates to date. Our USGIF University brain trust has been instrumental in the evolution of the GEOINT Essential Body of Knowledge version 2.0. As we approach 2020, we as a community understand the specific training and skills development required to mature our thinking to address the social, political, and ethical contexts of the world in which we live.

NGA Deputy Director Dr. Stacey Dixon celebrated the available volume of information while being thoughtful about the limitations of human ability to swim in this ocean of data. She stressed the importance of research and development for the innovative application of technology. Perspecta’s Patrick Biltgen reminded us that we should not always seek the model as the result, but more importantly, think about how and what to model. 

The leadership, communication, and critical thinking skills demonstrated by our community give me confidence we can significantly contribute to solving the world’s most pressing problems. If you have participated in a recent USGIF event, I thank you. And if you have not, I invite you to open your eyes to opportunities for engagement and join us on this journey. After all, the dog that stays on the porch will find no bones.

Featured image: JMU student Patrick Muradaz presented at USGIF’s inaugural GEOINTegration Summit
in September.

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Posted by The Honorable Jeffrey K. Harris