Defence Geographic Centre receives GIS award

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A team of geospatial analysts within the Foundation Division at the Defence Geographic Centre (DGC) has received the Esri Special Achievement in GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Award.

The award, jointly presented to the DGC and the US Marine Corps Intelligence Activity (MCIA), is in recognition of a collaborative compound mapping project to support operations in both the Helmand Valley and other parts of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan.

Esri is a software development and services company providing GIS software and geodatabase management applications.

The award was presented to the DGC and MCIA by Esri Founder and President Jack Dangermond at a recent event in San Diego.

The Helmand Valley Green Zone is a highly populated and extensively cultivated area with dwellings of thick-walled mud construction with high surrounding walls forming compounds. These are often used by insurgents as firing points and safe houses and are viewed as key terrain by ground troops of Task Force Helmand who patrol the Green Zone area.

To address the need for improved battlespace management, situational awareness and tactical referencing, a bespoke large-scale image-based map series specification for compound maps was developed in 2008.

These maps are designed to support air-ground operations and reference individual compounds by a unique alpha-numeric code to enable a unit’s position to be instantly communicated without reference to geospatial position.

Initially, compound maps were produced under the control of ISAF HQ in theatre. However, the increasing size of the project resulted in this major programme of work being undertaken at the DGC.

In late 2008, the US Marine Corps surged an expeditionary brigade into Helmand province, resulting in the creation of Regional Command (South West). In February and March 2010, in support of the joint US/UK Op MOSHTARAK, both the US and UK were producing compound maps.

The requirement to ensure a common specification and mapping programme was quickly established and a rapid and deep collaboration between the DGC and the Quantico-based MCIA followed to an agreed common specification and co-production programme.

To date, the DGC and MCIA have jointly captured and referenced in excess of 200,000 compounds within over 3,000 terrain sectors. Over 1,100 large-scale maps covering more than 11,000 square kilometres in Helmand province have been completed, with three million printed copies of these maps produced and delivered to theatre in direct support of units on the ground.

In addition, digital versions of these compound maps, in up to eight different formats, were provided to a range of customers and have proved to be particularly useful in close air support activities.

The close relationship between the DGC and MCIA continues with the ongoing co-ordination of programmes of work and the sharing of technical best practice in the production of compound maps.

Director DGC formally presented the award to the DGC Compound Map Team at their Feltham, Middlesex, base in August 2012.

Julie Evenden, Assistant Director Foundation Division at the Defence Geographic Centre, said:

This is the first time that Esri has presented a joint Special Achievement in GIS Award and DGC is delighted to be recognised along with our US MCIA colleagues for completing such an important programme of work for Defence.