NGA has plan for total “Map of the World”

John Goolgasian, NGA

According to the NGA, one of the most popular sessions at the recent GEOINT 2013* (held over from 2013) conference was one which offered a total “Map of the World:”

But what is it?

Map of the World is the foundation for intelligence integration, said NGA Director Letitia A. Long in her keynote address at the four-day event.

The clue lies in this statement:

Twelve different data views will make up Map of the World and nine of them are online now, including maritime and aeronautical.

This, along with Goolgasian’s involvement, indicates that it is probably related to, or draws from, the work of the World-Wide Human Geography Database Working Group (WWHGD). I’ve written about Goolgasian on this blog before.

The WWHGD is a government-private contractor (Booz Allen Hamilton are the provided contact points and presumably run it) group that is seeking to:

The WWHGD Working Group is designed to build voluntary partnerships around human geography data and mapping focused on the general principle of making appropriate information available at the appropriate scales to promote human security. This involves a voluntary “whole-of-governments” national and international approach to create a human geography data framework that can leverage ongoing efforts around the world to identify, capture, build, share, and disseminate the best available structured and unstructured foundation data.

Here are the data they’re looking at in these layers:

The inclusion of things like land ownership maps directly on to the arguments of Geoffrey Demerest, who was a key player in the Bowman Expeditions. You can judge for yourselves about the set of information here. Personally I think it’s way too rigid and a-historical (what about a history of foreign intervention in an area, or standards of living and well-being?).

But even beyond that it reflects a belief in the efficacy of totalizing indexes. We heard something about this at the AAG, and Brad Evans and Julian Reid have a discussion about it in their new book Resilient Life.

The article continues:

“Through a single point on the Earth, the Map of the World will present an integrated view of collection assets from across the community, mapping information for military operations, GEOINT observations, and NGA analytic products, data and models,” said Goolgasian.

Worth keeping an eye on.

Contractor receives $400K federal funds for automatic license plate reading

According to reporting by Bloomsberg News the IRS, the Forest Service and the U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command have awarded a contractor over $400,000 in contracts for its automated licence plate recognition (ALPR) system since 2009.

It’s not clear if the contracts to Vigilant Solutions are ongoing, given the context that Homeland Security dropped similar plans in February of this year following widespread opposition form civil liberties groups.

“Especially with the IRS, I don’t know why these agencies are getting access to this kind of information,” said Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based privacy-rights group. “These systems treat every single person in an area as if they’re under investigation for a crime — that is not the way our criminal justice system was set up or the way things work in a democratic society.”

Other countries (including the UK) have long had such systems in place.

If you go to the Vigilant website they have a long complaining blog post about the lies and distortions by civil liberties groups:

License plate readers are under siege nationwide, thanks to a well-funded, well-coordinated campaign launched by civil liberties groups seeking to take advantage of the growing national debate over surveillance. 

Unfortunately, the campaign led by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has deliberately clouded and even omitted those facts.

According to this article, Vigilant actually successfully used the First Amendment to overturn an anti license-plate recognition law in Utah:

Vigilant Solutions and DRN [Digital Recognition Network] sued the state of Utah on constitutional grounds, arguing that the law infringed on the First Amendment right to take photographs of public images in public places, a right that everyone in Utah shares.

The law was overturned, but Vigilant com,plains that state agencies were then barred from using any of the data collected, impacting their profits. They also complain about data retention limits.

What’s also interesting about companies such as this is that they illustrate the argument for understanding policing and military together (see this blog post by Derek Gregory for example).

Psychologist behind torture and interrogation speaks for first time

James Mitchell, one of the people who designed the CIA interrogation program of prisoners after 9/11, has broken his media silence. In a remarkable interview at the Guardian he provided a robust defense of his actions:

“The people on the ground did the best they could with the way they understood the law at the time,” he said. “You can’t ask someone to put their life on the line and think and make a decision without the benefit of hindsight and then eviscerate them in the press 10 years later.”

The Guardian’s headline is actually “CIA torture architect breaks silence to defend ‘enhanced interrogation’” which highlights that they are one of the few major media outlets to use the word “torture.”

I found the comments very instructive (very little love for this guy). But what about this one, given that we’ve just come from an AAG where the organization’s role was criticized:

And this war criminal still holds a professional license to practice psychology and destroy even more lives.

The American Psychology Association must be staffed with similar thinking war-criminal wanna be’s. They refused to rebuke his anti-ethical behavior.

Plenty to think about there.

DNI Clapper: press coverage “inaccurate”

DNI Clapper labeled press coverage of the Snowden affair as “inaccurate, misleading and incomplete” at the GEOINT 2013* meeting today:

He also repeated his position that Snowden is not a whistleblower:

USGIF Chairman Stu Shea Steps Down After 10 Years of Service – USGIF News – USGIF

Changes at USGIF. The new Chairman is Jeffrey K. Harris who is described by USGIF here:

Former director of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and undersecretary of the Air Force, Jeffrey K. Harris has contributed to U.S. national security in both government and industry for 35 years. He has fostered new technologies, programs, and capabilities that have contributed significantly toward keeping our nation secure.

Harris is retired from Lockheed Martin, where he was a corporate officer and served as president of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space, as well as president of Lockheed Martin Special Programs. Prior, he served as president of Space Imaging, the first company to provide commercial high-resolution satellite imagery.

Before entering the private sector, Harris served in federal leadership positions, including Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space, director of the NRO, and associate executive director of the Intelligence Community Management Staff. In all of these capacities, he provided direct support to both the Secretary of Defense and the Director of Central Intelligence.

USGIF Chairman Stu Shea Steps Down After 10 Years of Service – USGIF News – USGIF.

Michel Foucault and Fons Elders – a preparatory interview for the Chomsky debate

A new interview has surfaced with Foucault, and is available on YouTube. Stuart has the news here:

Michel Foucault and Fons Elders – a preparatory interview for the Chomsky debate.

And here’s the description:

This until now rarely seen 15-minute footage is of an interview that was conducted by the Dutch philosopher Fons Elders in preparation for the debate between Noam Chomsky and Michel Foucault, which was broadcasted on Dutch television on Sunday, November 28, 1971. The whole interview was essentially lost for decades and was published in the winter of 2012 for the first time. It is now available as an e-book under the title of “Freedom and Knowledge.” An excerpt is available for free online on Elder’s own website where people can also purchase the actual book:

via Michel Foucault and Fons Elders – a preparatory interview for the Chomsky debate.

Animated map of data using cartoDB

In my last post I shared a map experiment using data collected on the smartphone with the Fulcrum app and uploaded to cartoDB.

Another option in cartoDB is animation: [click here for map since WordPress won't allow iframe embeds].

Here I’ve set the base map background to a black outline, imported a shapefile of UKY buildings, and animated each data point by the order in which it was added.

These are relatively simple to do using the entry-level membership of cartoDB (free, but limited to five data layers or tables only). But I thought I’d share them anyway since cartoDB has some design options not found in, the usual go-to for class-based projects such as this.