I’m on my way to Washington, D.C. for the GEOINT 2015 Symposium. I’m looking forward to spending time with customers and GEOINT’ers, along with the rest of the Quantum team. If you’re at the event, drop by Quantum booth #8058 to learn about the latest techniques in geospatial data management. I’m especially excited to attend GEOINT this year because I’ve been selected to give a Lightning Talk at the GEOINT Foreword Pre-Symposium. I will have 5 short minutes to tell a technology story and keep the audience engaged. No pressure. The title of my talk is: “Connecting Dots In Today’s World—Crayons Not Included.” Why focus on “connecting dots?" Well, the goal in GEOINT today is the same as ever: to derive useful intelligence from data. And while innovation is everywhere—in small sats, in 4K video, in sensors, in mobile, and in the analytics and data viz software that enables discovery—all this innovation is creating a ton of data that needs to be managed, analyzed, and connected. So it makes sense to talk about the challenges people face connecting all of these dots. And the bigger challenge they face recognizing which patterns of connected dots are meaningful.
I was a very minor player in the space race. Not the race between global super powers in the 50s and 60s, but the race in the 90s to put the first high-resolution commercial imaging satellite into orbit. It was an exciting time. Private companies consisting of just a couple hundred people had the audacious vision that they could build satellites, launch them, construct a network of ground stations, and collect sufficient imagery to create a detailed, searchable database of the globe. It was easy to believe that putting the planet online could change the world, touching an enormous range of human endeavors spanning agriculture, defense, human rights, mineral extraction, disaster response, urban planning and construction.
Data stewardship has always mattered. We humans have been recording valuable data for thousands of years—all we have to do is look at the Lascaux cave paintings in southwestern France for images that are believed to be over 17,000 years old. And sometimes, we have even invested in beautiful monuments to store our data repositories and to symbolize the knowledge within. Observing, capturing, and preserving information about this planet are behaviors that seem to be wired into our DNA. The Radcliffe Camera at the Bodleian Library at Oxford is one such beautiful monument to data stewardship. This image of the Bodleian—which I discovered through Fodor’s 20 Most Stunning Libraries—makes me stop and marvel, not only at the curves of the dome and the lines of the columns, but at the determination of the architects and builders who spent over 100 years constructing this beauty, to store and protect a wealth of knowledge for centuries to come.