29 August 2017
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has hosted a training course in Auckland on maximising the benefits of geospatial information in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.
Geospatial-intelligence (GEOINT) is defined as the exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information about features and activities of defence, security, economic, safety or intelligence interest.
The four-day course last week was led by partners from the United States National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM). It was attended by representatives from the NZDF and other New Zealand Government agencies, and representatives from Australia, Vanuatu, Tonga, Cook Islands, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
The event provided a great opportunity for those involved in the geospatial community to meet and focus on using combined capabilities to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief activities.
During the course geospatial intelligence practitioners created and developed strategies, processes and products to support relief operations.
The NZDF spokesman for the course, Allan Nicholls, said the training provided a unique opportunity to work alongside New Zealand‘s South Pacific neighbours, as well as its more traditional partners.
“This training will improve and reinforce inter-agency coordination well into the future,” Mr Nicholls said.
“The NZDF’s recent experiences in the Pacific reacting to the cyclones in Vanuatu and Fiji, as well as the earthquake in Kaikoura, allowed us to provide contemporary experience and knowledge.
“We were able to offer applied examples of wide-ranging cooperation, problem solving and support. Taking part in training and exercises such as this ensures we are ready to operate in this kind of scenario whenever the need arises.”
GEOINT New Zealand provides many forms of support, including maps, sea and air navigation products, imagery analysis derived from satellite, airborne and hand-held imagery, and a wide variety of data and online services.
For humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support, it provides pre-event baseline imagery and analyses early post-event imagery, either optical or radar, to identify damage and extent.
Imagery analysis can assess the state of critical infrastructure such as roads and bridges, air and sea ports, power reticulation, hospitals, and population centres. Initial assessment will identify the most suitable routes for aid delivery and evacuation, including suitable helicopter landing zones.