Delivering innovative capabilities through enhanced GXP products is the primary focus of our product management and engineering teams. Often, these innovations provide completely new capabilities, increased production throughput and geospatial data accuracy, or workflows that support new concepts of operation. Geospatial technology developments are ongoing across a number of business areas throughout BAE Systems. Changes to BAE Systems’ organizational structure in 2005 have enabled GXP to take full advantage of company resources, and to expedite our ability to deliver new and improved products.
Early 1980s digital photogrammetric production workstations BAE Systems’ National Security Solutions (NSS) line of business has a history built on a geospatial foundation, which dates back to the early 1980s when the U.S. Defense Mapping Agency (DMA) was undergoing a major modernization program, moving to softcopy imagery exploitation. BAE Systems built the Digital Stereo Comparator Compiler and the Data Extraction Segment for DMA during this time period. Both of these systems played a major role in the evolution of digital photogrammetry for the U.S. government. At the same time, the digital photogrammetry concepts of Uki Helava were embedded in the geospatial thinking of the company. This core competency led to advances in other mapping, precision geopositioning, navigation and targeting systems. However, as time progressed, the geospatial foundation of the organization became dispersed across multiple business areas, minimizing the ability to leverage these capabilities.
Last year, changes to the NSS organizational structure, and the creation of the Geospatial Products and Services (GP&S) business area, brought focus back to our geospatial heritage. GP&S is comprised of three business components: Geospatial eXploitation Products (GXP), Geospatial Data Production (GDP), and Geospatial Intelligence Technologies (GIT). These three business components provide licensed software capabilities, outsourced data production and services, and geospatial technology R&D. GXP’s ability to draw on internal data production and technology expertise has allowed us to deliver better products to the user community. The GDP element offers a fresh perspective into emerging geospatial data production requirements. In addition, GDP supports the advanced assessment of new product capabilities in a true production environment. We often find ways to improve our software implementation through User Conferences and regional workshops, where we glean important insight from our customer base.
Furthermore, the geospatial technology R&D performed by GIT has a direct influence on the delivery of new GXP products. All geospatial R&D from NSS is executed through GIT, which is supported by over 40 engineers who are experts in various aspects of the geospatial domain. Areas of development in GIT include algorithmic automation, capabilities for new/evolving data products, data fusion and visualization, real-time precision geo-registration, rigorous sensor modeling, and geospatial web services. Most of this development is done in conjunction with existing GXP software, which allows for an extremely fast transition from R&D to finished product.
Dennis Lambell, Vice President of GP&S, likes to refer to the leveraging of the three business components as the “technology development and transfer flywheel.” Inputs to the flywheel include program related developments, internal R&D (IR&D) and contracted R&D. These technologies are evaluated through prototyping, lab tests, production and field exercises, which provide the means to explore, develop and mature technologies. This insight is key to making decisions to either deploy or shelf the technologies while generating new ideas. Technologies that are proven may then be introduced via commercial software products, services and tools or system applications.
For example, advanced registration capabilities were developed, assessed and matured through the IR&D group. These registration techniques were especially well suited for cross sensor registration requirements. In SOCET SET v5.2 these registration techniques were included as an alternative method for automatic point mensuration. The bottom line is an improved pipeline of product enhancements that will continue to serve a broader spectrum of image and geospatial analysis requirements. Ultimately, introducing innovative capabilities that make a difference to our end users and their organizations is the real measure of our success.
Vice President and General Manager
BAE Systems GXP