Navy Net - Royal Navy Community

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Keeping the UK military on the map


War Hero
Ministry of Defence said:
When Australian scientists went to have a look at Sandy Island in the South Pacific recently, they discovered that, despite having featured on maps and on Google Earth for years, it doesn’t actually exist.
The experts working at the Defence Geographic Centre (DGC) may well have smiled wryly on hearing this. There is no room in their world for such errors.
The DGC provides geographic information to Defence, predominantly to the Army and the RAF, but also to other government departments, and works in a world of international collaboration, sharing and co-producing geographical information where a reputation for accuracy matters.
DGC’s geographers, or geospatial analysts as they prefer to be called, know that, if you rely on a map which hasn’t been created from entirely dependable source data, the result can get you into trouble.

The Defence Geographic Centre has a full range of modern print and production equipment [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD]But even the best maps are the result of compromise and estimate.
Unless you are on the ground looking at something, geographical information is always an approximation,” said Ian Spencer, Head of Geo Research. “We know how accurate our sources are, and the technical parameters of our sensors, so we know how accurate our products are. We have to work within a defined margin of error for each military product. If it’s outside that margin it’s considered unfit for purpose.
It’s true that the DGC augments some of their products with open source material, such as Google Earth pictures, to provide pop-up images of features, but they do it knowing where the risks lie.
But the DGC produces more than just maps, whether on paper or on a screen. After all, a map is just one way of presenting geographical information, and it might not be the best solution for you.
Instead, you might need a database of geographic data to put in a weapons system, or a 3D simulation created from stereoscopic photographs to prepare yourself for the environment through which you may have to fly and control a missile.
The DGC specialises in making sense of a huge mass of data and presenting it to the customer in a way that is going to help them make sense of the world, spot relationships, and make informed plans.
We get 2 types of request,” said Operations Officer Major Jim Danks. “These are ad hoc for a single event or operation, such as disaster relief or support to the Arab Spring operations. And longer term planned work which can include Afghanistan tasks.

A geospatial analyst using stereographic imagery to produce simulations [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD]A request may start as a one-off and then develop into a long-term requirement. When Camp Bastion was established more than a decade ago it started as an ad hoc request. Now, as a home for thousands of troops, it is a standard request requiring the provision of many different types of data.
[h=4]International co-operation[/h]Working for Lionel Fewson, Head of Collection, are 5 Collection Officers who could be described as the geographic equivalent of Indiana Jones. They scour the globe in search of useful, creditable data, visiting countries of interest gathering information and making new contacts.
Making maps from scratch is time consuming and very expensive, so international collaboration and data-sharing is very cost effective. Lionel said:
We have memorandums of understanding with 50 countries and links with many trusted commercial suppliers.
On the digital side, the DGC is part of a 29-nation programme to capture digital data from various places of interest around the world. In return for their contribution, the DGC has access to the entire output.
A good example of the benefit of co-operation is the award-winning work producing image-based mapping of compounds in Helmand province to improve battlefield and situational awareness.
Working with the US Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, the project has to date captured and referenced more than 200,000 compounds and produced more than 1,100 large-scale maps covering more than 11,000 square kilometres.

Defence Geographic Centre personnel meet to identify sources for new products [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD]When it comes to future products, there is a revolution taking place, and the DGC is leading the way. The move is towards making more use of human geography in an ordered way. Ian Spencer said:
We want to develop standards with our overseas partners to define database structures so that we can start capturing information like ethnicity demographics, economics, religion and water control.
If you go on the internet you will see lots of people doing things in different disciplines, but at the moment it isn’t connected. We want to pull all this information together in a systematic way so that decision makers and analysts have a better understanding of what’s going on.
If we have the basic geographic foundation we can overlay that with all kinds of human activities. Once data is organised then you can share it and exploit it, and when it has a spatial element you can model these factors and see what effect their interaction has.
Ian believes that marrying physical and social sciences will open up a new world of understanding, as long as you take into account the assumptions and approximations that have been made. Asking how does factor A affect element B is OK as long as you keep an eye out for any more fictitious islands on the horizon.
[h=4]This report by Ian Carr appears in the December 2012/January 2013 issue of Defence Focus - the magazine for everyone in Defence.[/h]

Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
MoD_RSS Keeping the UK military on the map MoD News 2
MoD_RSS News story: Defence Secretary praises contribution female military personnel make to keeping Britain safe MoD News 2
MoD_RSS Keeping momentum on climate action and ambition MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Portland Scrap Metal fined for keeping waste vehicles MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Delivering payments and keeping students safe online MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Keeping boaters afloat MoD News 0
MoD_RSS UK government announces Automated Lane Keeping System call for evidence MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Creativity keeping road workers safe and the country moving MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Sensible measures protect the NNL workforce keeping the lights on MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Keeping primary and secondary pupils motivated and engaged at a distance MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Government takes further action to support bus and lorry drivers who are keeping the country moving MoD News 0
MoD_RSS IAP Keeping Safe Conference: Robert Buckland speech MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Meet the families keeping motorists moving at Christmas MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Keeping peace in a changing backdrop in Sudan and South Sudan MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Highways England keeping a watchful eye on motorway upgrade MoD News 0
MoD_RSS NHS England tasked with keeping Royal Shrewsbury A&E open MoD News 0
vauxhall Keeping an eye on your pension! Finance & Pensions 0
MoD_RSS Keeping British MotoGP visitors on track for safer rides MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Keeping Britain at the forefront of healthtech MoD News 0
MoD_RSS News story: Home Secretary: keeping our country safe MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Speech: Home Secretary speech on keeping our country safe MoD News 0
MoD_RSS News story: Project Servator: keeping defence safe MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Press release: True grit - the husband and wife keeping motorways moving this winter MoD News 0
MoD_RSS News story: Hundreds of secure stations keeping passengers safe MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Press release: Keeping the River Irwell clean MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Press release: Poor record keeping lands nightclub boss with 6-year ban MoD News 0
MoD_RSS News story: Defence Secretary praises personnel keeping Britain safe over Christmas MoD News 0
MoD_RSS News story: Keeping the nation safe: Ministry of Defence Police rise to the challenge MoD News 0
MichaelBully1 World War 2 -keeping diaries whilst serving in the Royal Navy History 4
Wee-lad Keeping fit on a submarine Joining Up - Royal Navy Recruiting 10
MoD_RSS Speech: Defence Secretary Michael Fallon: Keeping Our Future Afloat Campaign MoD News 0
digger84 Whatever happened to keeping your dirty laundry private? Current Affairs 6
MoD_RSS Speech: Reforming Defence - keeping fighting fit MoD News 3
Dealwithit Keeping track of time? RFA 1
S Question: Do you think its worth keeping your car if you join the navy? Joining Up - Royal Navy Recruiting 18
trelawney126 I'm keeping my Pension Too Current Affairs 1
C Keeping up the fitness Joining Up - Royal Navy Recruiting 10
MoD_RSS Keeping 45 Commando's wheels turning in Helmand Current Affairs 0
soleil Navy News: "Commandos Keeping Insurgents In Check – But Still 'Hard Work To Be Done'" The Corps 0
A Keeping the Preacher Nautical Jokes 0
D Keeping in touch with/hassling your AFCO Joining Up - Royal Navy Recruiting 30
soleil Gibraltar Chronicle: "Guardia Civil Keeping A Distance" Bases / Shore Est 4
BreathingOutOnTheWayUp Keeping the Jocks happy The Gash Barge 1
B Keeping fit on Subs Submariners 20
Naval_Gazer Keeping HMS Belfast afloat History 1
A Cheers for keeping up this Matlo's Moral in Afghan! Joining Up - Royal Navy Recruiting 18
janner Keeping up the RN's finest traditions!! The Gash Barge 3
Ninja_Stoker Whoops- Keeping Mum in the picture! Current Affairs 3
A Keeping a weapon Current Affairs 46
westwinds31 Keeping the future in !! The Fleet 30
Similar threads