Timeless Maps, Updated Mapping Technology for Defense and Intelligence

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill understood the importance of accurate and timely maps. In Churchill’s World War II bunker in London, visitors can still see a map of the North Atlantic with all the pinholes in it, Esri director of software development Scott Morehouse said during a special presentation at the Esri Defense and Intelligence Executive Track on Tuesday.

The map room in the bunker underscores the importance maps play in mission planning and decision making. “People collaborate using a map. This has been true since the beginning of time,” Morehouse said.

Esri continues to strengthen and tailor core ArcGIS for defense and intelligence workflows, with the goal of making it easier to manage, visualize, analyze, and share geospatial information easier and improve collaboration, Morehouse said. In demonstrations that followed, Morehouse and his colleagues showed how ArcGIS works in the secure cloud using Portal for ArcGIS.

Members of a team can log into their organization’s Portal for ArcGIS and create web maps and applications. Sometimes creating a web map is as easy as dragging and dropping a spreadsheet onto the map or bringing in data from an intelligence agency, said John Fry of Esri. Portal for ArcGIS also comes with easy to configure application templates, which lets users add graphs and pie charts.

Ben Conklin of Esri demonstrated ArcGIS for the Military Land Operations Server and how it’s used to run a situational awareness dashboard in an operations center. A “chat” component lets users collaborate in real time, allowing them to exchange notes and upload geospatial information on the map. He also talked about new mobile mapping capabilities at the platoon and squad levels, even in disconnected environments.

Curt Hammill of Esri demonstrated a mobile briefing book that included web maps created using ArcGIS that can be opened and viewed inside a tablet. With links to important information about a situation and up-to-date maps embedded into the book, the mobile briefing book can be an important source of information for commanders and other decision makers.

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