John Day, the Director of Defence at world-leading GIS specialist Esri, has answered requests to meet the nation’s leading defence personnel at ‘GIS in Defence Day’ in Canberra on 29 March.
Mr Day will be delivering a keynote speech at the seminar, alongside Esri Australia Manager for Defence Simon Hill.
As a former officer in the British Army for 30 years, Mr Day has been involved in numerous military engineering and geospatial projects – including counter-terrorism activities in Northern Ireland, manoeuvre warfare readiness in West Germany, and geospatial support with NATO in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Now based in the U.S., Mr Day said his main aim while in Australia was to stimulate thinking about the evolving role of GIS technology as a collaboration and communication mechanism across Defence Services and Groups.
“Traditionally in Defence, while GIS technology has been widely leveraged, it has been managed predominantly by geospatial professionals,” Mr Day said.
“The technology has evolved considerably and the capabilities are now so advanced that Defence personnel working across all levels and areas – from the commander in joint headquarters near Canberra to the intelligence analyst deployed on operations in the Middle East – can use it to meet their own needs and solve their own problems.
“The development of Portal for ArcGIS – a secure cloud-based GIS capability – has already transformed many of the world’s major organisations operating in the Defence space – and it’s a solution Australia would benefit from greatly.”
Portal for ArcGIS, a new offering from Esri that builds on the widely successful ArcGIS Online platform, provides the benefits and capabilities of GIS technology in a secure, hosted online environment.
The offering was developed to meet the very specific security needs of a Defence organisation – as it can be deployed behind a Defence organisation’s firewall.
Mr Day said a shift to Portal for ArcGIS was inevitable for Australia’s already geo-enabled Department of Defence.
“Portal for ArcGIS supports more collaboration between departments and enables all the Services and Groups to operate across a shared infrastructure,” Mr Day said.
“By providing geospatial capabilities to all personnel across an organisation, Portal for ArcGIS allows every stakeholder to access, visualise and analyse spatial data – and tailor how they use this information to suit their specific needs.
“For example a Commander, who might not have any GIS experience, could create a map that includes authoritative data on human terrain analysis, intelligence reporting and weather patterns, and develop a very specific and tailored view of a situation to plan missions.
“This is the first time this ‘self-serve’ GIS capability has been possible in Defence.
Mr Hill, who will be running demonstrations of Portal for ArcGIS at the seminar, said the challenge for Australian defence personnel is to determine how they can empower colleagues who aren’t GIS professionals to leverage the technology in their own roles.
“GIS professionals will always be required to perform more complex analysis, however the goal should now be to empower the rest of the organisation to do more with GIS technology themselves,” he said.
Hosted by Esri Australia, GIS in Defence Day will bring together more than 40 leading Defence personnel from across the nation, as well as specialists from the Asia Pacific region.
“It is a valuable opportunity for Australia’s defence decision-makers to network with some of the top minds in the local and regional defence space and to discuss new ways how GIS technology can further enable their organisations,” said Mr Hill.