Developers show off geospatial test bed

Developers show off geospatial test bed

BY PATRICIA DAUKANTAS | GCN STAFF

The CIA's technology incubator company recently teamed with a consortium of geographic information system vendors to demonstrate a test bed for mapping product interoperability.

About 100 representatives of defense and intelligence agencies attended a demonstration at the Arlington, Va., offices of In-Q-Tel Inc., the venture capital arm of the CIA.

'We're here to provide the agency with new technologies,' In-Q-Tel chief strategist Chris Tucker said.

The Open GIS Consortium Inc. of Wayland, Mass., showed off its Geospatial Fusion Services Testbed, a working draft specification for integrating commercial databases with GIS applications. Sixteen companies participated in the demonstration.

Harry Niedzwiadek, a Massachusetts consultant, helped develop the test bed specifications for the demonstration of an imaginary threat by an environmental terrorist group. The scenario began with interception of cable messages. Accessing GIS servers in four other countries'Australia, Belgium, Britain and Canada'the vendor teams gleaned geographical and temporal data from the text messages and displayed maps for intelligence teams.

The key to the data sharing was a location organizer folder, an Extensible Markup Language document that stores and links geographic features.

Niedzwiadek, who devised the folder specification, said it behaves like a Microsoft Windows desktop folder. Opening it brings up a map with situational references.

Other components of the test bed included a geoparser, an application that recognizes words relating to geography in scanned text, and a gazetteer, which looks up geographic features on maps.

Intelligence analysts can write location organizer folders to remote servers, and anyone with appropriate permission can access the information, Niedzwiadek said.

Now that the test bed specifications have been hammered out, the CIA will conduct a pilot this year, In-Q-Tel's Tucker said.

The candidate specifications are available on the consortium's Web site, at www.opengis.org.

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