Australian Defence Department’s ‘Secret Weapon’ Maps Human Terrain

Esri Australia Manager for Defence Simon Hill is quoted in the story on Spatial Source

Spatial Source  is one of several websites that have run news about how an Esri Australia GIS technology solution which plots socio-cultural information is equipping Australia’s military force to make better informed decisions while deployed on operations overseas.

‘Human Terrain’ maps display the human geography of an area using dozens of different categories such as ethnicity, religion and language. The technology supports key military decisions in peacekeeping, conflict, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

Esri Australia Manager for Defence Simon Hill said the ability to analyse human geography gave the Department of Defence a more complete understanding of the area it was operating in.

“Human terrain analysis is all about determining the relationship between the characteristics of a human population and that population’s location,” he said. “It provides a geographic context and a timeline to human behaviour on the ground – who controls local resources such as water or transport routes, how ethnic boundaries are shifting, what type of crimes are most prevalent, what level of education a population has – which assists with predicting future behaviour. The problem in modern defence is there is often too much information available so adding a geographic context helps filter the most relevant from the least relevant.”

Simon continued to say that GIS technology solutions ensure Defence personnel can exploit the full power of human geography. “Paper-based maps are static and of finite value but, in today’s digital world, the data is dynamic and online maps can be provided and updated in near real-time,” he said. “Not only is this critical in the planning of operations but, by using mobile devices, deployed forces are equipped with situational awareness. Troops in the field can also contribute more quickly and completely to the intelligence picture long before they’re debriefed back at base.”

Finally, he said GIS technology behind human terrain mapping was helping Australia’s Defence Force continue a long tradition of punching above their weight.

“Australia has a flexible, agile Defence Force which relies on superior information for competitive advantage. With state-of-the-art GIS technology, Australia’s military continues a tradition of working smarter and faster than other significantly larger Defence Forces around the globe.”

Anyway – you can read more about this fascinating topic on Spatial!

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