Geospatial intelligence and analytics is a type of geospatial science. The main difference is that the data is used to look for key features of human origin, typically relating to the infrastructure of military interest. More recently, the method has been used in academic and other non-military disciplines, particularly in logistics and regional planning of disaster management relief and emergency planning. It also has some use in climate science.
Geospatial Intelligence is hard data presented as a map and the descriptions that go with it. It allows decision makers to plan activities. It relies heavily on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and survey data in the collection, collation and formulation in order to come to a set of results and define a plan of action.
Most colleges that offer Geospatial Intelligence offer the course as a postgraduate certificate rather than a master's degree. You will wish to enter a career as a geospatial analyst but within this particular niche. It will build on your GIS knowledge to enable you to enter into the niche of military or disaster relief planning.
Courses in Geospatial Intelligence Analytics
This is a specialized area taken as a postgraduate course. Students must qualify with a bachelor's degree in a relevant field such as GIS, geography, geoscience, data science and a range of other relevant courses. They may also expect good grades in math. The certificate will teach the prospective Geospatial Intelligence Analyst into a niche relating to planning intelligence. A typical certificate will build on existing knowledge and contain the following modules:
- GEOINT Foundations: providing an overview of what GEOINT is and how it works
- Analysis of Remote Sensing data, GIS and aerial photography
- Advanced analytical methods is GEOINT
- Military applications of GEOINT
- Land change science
- GEOINT for disaster relief and mitigation
Those above are likely to form part of the core course of study. The student may find elective options such as LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging - a tool for measuring distance), some that develop GIS and options in environmental problem-solving.
Course material will focus on the methods and tools of Geospatial Intelligence Analytics and developing methods of knowledge. As this is an applied science, there is likely to be a large project at the end that will constitute a major part of the grade. It will incorporate practical, methodological and analytical methods.
Geospatial Intelligence Analytics for Environmental Sciences
GEOINT began as a military application. As already discussed, it has since moved into non-military applications such as disaster relief and planning. It has also made its way into the environmental sciences. A growing number of colleges and universities are offering modules in this area; should you prefer your GEOINT course to apply to the environment, seek colleges that offer environment as core modules. Others will offer electives.
If you already work in environmental planning or conservation, you may find a GEOINT postgraduate certificate will help you develop your career into resource preservation. Intelligence is about the anticipation of the observed data. Modern environmental conservation is both proactive and reactive, anticipating issues based on indicators read in a range of available scientific data.
New Developments in Geospatial Intelligence Analytics
There are five emerging core areas driving GEOINT forward. They apply to both military and non-military application.
- GEOINT Fusion: This is the combination of a variety of data sets including both structured and unstructured information to create a fuller picture of the geographic spatial data. It is the combining of multiple and sometimes disparate sources
- Crowdsourcing: this is using the collective efforts of recorded data from public sources and information offered by the public. Asking the public to report species numbers is one way of monitoring population numbers and trends
- Human geography: The understanding of human impact on the landscape is nothing new to archaeology, but it is new to urban studies, regional planning, military intelligence and other environmental sciences
- Forecasting: The use of the data to predict and project, sometimes with the use of models, what may happen next based on the presently available data. This has been used in meteorology and climate modelling for years but is now part of GEOINT too
- Social network analysis: Examining the relationship between people, things, elements and events can help Geospatial Intelligence Analysts build a more thorough picture using qualitative as well as quantitative data
Studying Geospatial Intelligence Analytics
George Mason University
This is only one of a handful of MS courses for GEOINT. The full course title is Geoinformatics and Geospatial Intelligence. It is heavily focused on the computer process of data science for both military and non-military practice. The student will learn how to use methods such as GIS and learn to interpret, model and forecast results from acquired data.
Penn State World Campus
Penn State offers one of the most comprehensive and prestigious Geospatial Intelligence postgraduate certificates at present. It was established in 2005 as one of the first when there was a recognized gap in the field. The program contains course modules on both military and non-military applications including a few options for those wishing to apply the method to the environmental sciences.
Tidewater Community College
Students will focus heavily on ArcGIS, one of the world's most widely used and best-known GIS packages. Student graduates from this certification have worked in marine conservation, military intelligence, cartography and a range of other areas. You will be expected to produce a seminar and a major project at the end of your studies.
University of Maryland
College Park, MD
Working closely with the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, students on this graduate certificate course can be assured that the research and teaching are of the highest quality. The course is designed to allow students to come up with practical solutions to common geospatial intelligence problems. You may end up working with NASA Goddard or the NGIA following completion of your studies.
University of Missouri
Offered by the Department of Geography, it covers both the technical and analytical aspects of this discipline. It is just one of three higher education establishments in partnership with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). Therefore, students on this course are likely to find they work in a military capacity upon graduation.
University of Texas at Dallas
This institution offers a number of relevant programs but specifically a Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Intelligence. Enrolled students will study GIS in practice for public, private, government and military application. It focuses less on the method of GIS and more on the analysis and interpretation of the data. You will learn how to see elements of the landscape, interpret and forecast the outcomes.
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT
This certificate program has run since 2012 when it received full accreditation from the USGIF (United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation). In line with this accreditation, students will be able to process data about the Earth and its processes, find and interpret data and apply all techniques in application. This may be a useful course for students wishing to enter an environmental career.
The Dornsife College of Letters offers a course that covers all aspects of GEOINT: the methods, the tools, the research and analysis skills and the practical applications. Students will study all elements of global security including disaster relief. Many of their graduates go on to work for US military and for international aid organizations. Some of their options also include environmental planning. This is a great option for geoscience, planners and conservationists.
Geospatial Intelligence Analytics - Related Degrees
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