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Military Image Analysis Applications in an Uncertain Economy

Mark Alonzo
I’m at the ESRI UC for the first time this year and in preparation I have been looking into Image Analysis functionality with regards to Military Applications. There is an enormous amount of software and functionality out there that is developed for various US Military installations. With large budget cuts still looming, we have seen a decline, as an industry, in the amount of money the US Government is willing to spend on commercially developed technologies. So where does this leave the millions of professionals who have spent their careers developing such technologies? In my humble opinion…right in the same place they were prior to the economic decline. Intelligence agencies are always going to need imagery and image analysis capabilities, and as long as we’re living in the Good Old US of A, the US Government will look to commercial industry to lead the way in the development of cutting edge technologies. Now, this doesn’t mean that the industry can continue to develop the same old software for years…the industry’s ability to remain constantly aware of the changing needs of the military community and the development of software in conjunction with those changing needs, will be key in maintaining a successful industry. As seasoned image analysis experts retire, and as NGA pushes for GEOINT in the hands of everyone, there will be a focus on creating click-through workflows which allow anyone to run advanced geospatial analysis, even if they have little understanding of the science behind the algorithms. Today’s user is accustomed to a one-click world, where impressive computing power is remotely accessed through the cloud or on mobile devices. This is a world where software updates occur in a much shorter timeframe than the dot O releases of yester-year. As economic conditions put pressure on the defense contractor, it will be of paramount importance to maintain an agile, user-focused development process while keeping a pulse on ever-changing requirements. This is an exciting future for our industry. It will serve to push the limits of what Image Analysis applications can do, and who is able to exploit it.

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