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Digital transformation of geospatial technology for the defence industry

The secure and timely flow of digital information and intelligence is the life-blood of modern military operations. Defence organizations nowadays rely heavily on digital technology to achieve information dominance and gain superiority over their adversaries.  The ongoing digital transformation around us presents a great opportunity for defence organizations to integrate smart technologies into their operational planning process and accelerate their decision cycles. The advent of geospatial technology is enabling this digital transformation by providing users with a comprehensive platform to create, manage, analyze and share location-based information across multiple networks for improved situational awareness and better-informed decisions.

Geospatial technology, while a key enabler of any digital transformation, is not a silver bullet by itself.  The IT landscape of large defence organizations is usually complex, and include many other technologies implemented over various stages using their own standards and data models. To be effective, a geographic information system (GIS) must be integrated with other operational systems at an early stage and implemented enterprise-wide to ensure data interoperability and greater access by all users.  An enterprise GIS system should be the ultimate goal of any defence organization wanting to provide timely access to information through intuitive and comprehensive web-based geospatial applications.   

Over the years Esri has transformed its GIS offering into a platform technology that has become an unifying framework for integrating many forms of digital information.  The Esri ArcGIS platform provides a map centric collaborative environment that national security organizations can deploy across their IT networks to make their maps and web mapping applications accessible to everyone.  The ArcGIS platform revolves around the concept of a collaborative Web GIS Portal that contains all of your geospatial data and assets.  This Portal enables users to easily search, discover, create, collaborate and use maps and apps across their organization. Portal for ArcGIS is designed to manage your organization’s geospatial content and knowledge in a secure and distributed manner.  Esri’s technology is flexible and offers multiple implementation patterns and approaches to suit your own requirements and internal IT configuration. ArcGIS is also scalable and interoperable with many other business or operational systems.  ArcGIS is a complete Web GIS platform fed by web services that can be accessed by any application on any device anywhere, anytime; either at the office or on the battlefield.

ArcGIS is a platform for National Security integrating everyone and providing access to basemaps, dynamic overlays, sensors data, analytics and other content, that can be discovered through a Web GIS portal and accessed from many applications based on your role and tradecrafts.

Significant recent advances in digital technology, including Big Data analytics, the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, and Machine Learning, have all increased our productivity and improved our decision-making abilities.  The massive amounts of data that sensors and devices can collect nowadays provide the opportunity to gain more insights into our environment that can quickly be turned into actions. By connecting your enterprise GIS to these sensors and exploiting the geographic location within these networks of sensors, you can begin to trigger actions based on real-time information.  Esri’s real-time GIS gives you the ability to simultaneously access, analyze, and display streaming data from many sensors, devices, and other live feeds such as social media or weather. You can define filters and location-based analytics that automatically refine real-time data on events that matter most to you. ArcGIS continuously updates your dynamic maps and databases and sends alerts to key personnel once a critical threshold or significant event happens for faster decisions and response. Esri’s GIS enables users to work in a smarter way by putting more real-time information and decision-making power in their hands, with everything integrated securely in business processes and automated workflows.

Over the past few years, Esri has also developed specific solutions designed to meet the various industry’s needs, thereby delivering innovative tools and best practices for your community. These industry solutions consist of ready-to-use applications and workflows that can be easily configured to jumpstart your GIS work. For the defence industry, Esri provides a set of military tools, templates and solutions to help geospatial analysts rapidly create map products to support a wide range of military intelligence, operations and sustainment activities.  These solutions have transformed the defence GIS landscape by creating intuitive tools and repeatable workflows to increase productivity and streamline the creation and distribution of map products with your organization.

In summary, GIS technology has evolved to increase collaboration within your organization and beyond your enterprise by efficiently integrating multi-source data and sharing valuable information with stakeholders through Web GIS technology. With Esri ArcGIS, you can use web maps and apps in a collaborative environment to integrate data, sensors, and activities in real time. You can quickly detect, understand, and share intelligence for situational awareness between the field and operations centers to improve coordination and accelerate decision-making.

The digital transformation of Web GIS technology has created a new unifying platform for defence and security organizations to collaborate with their partners and maintain information dominance over their enemy. Ensuring national security requires not only a digital transformation, but a willingness for you to take advantage of the rapidly evolving GIS technology, and empowering your organization with new geospatial capabilities to achieve its mission. Now is the time to adopt an enterprise geospatial platform and position your organization as a digital transformation leader in your national government.

Learn more about how Esri helps you embrace digital transformation in defence.

About the Author

Pierre A. Bilodeau is the Defence and Security Industry Manager at Esri Canada. His efforts are focused on advising customers how to use GIS technology to support their mission planning, situational awareness, and decision making activities. Pierre joined Esri Canada in 2008 after 32 years of service as a Military Engineer Officer, including 18 years with the Defence Geospatial community. Pierre believes that all you need to succeed is a good plan, a “map” to get there, and the courage to press on to your destination. Map on!

Profile Photo of Pierre Bilodeau