Keeping Pace with Rapidly Changing Human Landscapes

June 28, 2017
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How to Manage or Resolve Modern Conflicts

Perhaps more than at any time in our history, our world is engaged in conflict. Insurgency movements around the world are on the rise, creating increasing levels of global conflict and instability, which are putting people, property and resources at risk. As insurgents adopt modern methods of combat, targeting vulnerable communities and individuals, intelligence and defense agencies must understand the human dynamics at play.

Are you able to analyze the shifting dynamics of power and influence?

How can you make timely and informed decisions in order to protect people, places and resources on the ground?

Conflict starts and ends with people

Understanding the different civilian populations surrounding valuable points of interest, such as natural resources, industrial facilities, or historical points of interest offers a huge advantage for intelligence agencies seeking to understand the roots of conflict. And knowing the nearest medical facility or refugee camp can assist with relief efforts. The more you know about the people occupying a given area, the more insight and information you have in preventing, resolving or containing a crisis.

Analysis of demographic attributes such as religion, ethnicity, age, or industry (common occupations) across civilian populations can reveal critical insight into the drivers of conflict and potential risk. These attributes provide context, which allow analysts to determine who might be vulnerable to enemy siege or recruitment. For example, analysis of human landscapes can help analysts better understand the potential strategies of Iraqi-based extremists crossing the border into Syria to leverage groups sympathetic to their cause.

By identifying smaller opposition groups, intelligence agencies can assess the risks of such groups falling victim to or embracing the control of extremist leaders.

Why did Aleppo become the target of heavy bombardment? Was it religiously motivated? Were cultural points of interest targeted? What military installations were used to launch attacks? The answers to these questions, found in the human landscape, can inform strategies to better prevent, manage or resolve conflict.

Tapping into local culture and community

The most successful forms of conflict mitigation, particularly across developing nations with populations vulnerable to violence and oppression, lie in empathetic strategies informed by an exhaustive analysis of the human landscape.

Analysts must be empowered with human landscape data to identify root causes of conflict and enable decision makers to consider native customs, concerns and needs when developing conflict mitigation strategies.

For example, in-depth sociocultural analysis of the human landscape can help an analyst assess a regional population’s vulnerability based on lack of access to critical resources such as food, medical care, job opportunities and education.

This is important for two key reasons. One, resource vulnerable populations are much more susceptible to bad actors and activity within a region. Two, they are more likely to migrate out of the region creating challenges for border states. We have seen this play out in nations such as Lebanon and Turkey, which are struggling to accommodate floods of Syrian refugees thereby destabilizing each country’s health and education systems. 

The Opportunity to Get It Right

Defense and intelligence agencies need readily accessible and authoritative human landscape data, which can be analyzed quickly, and with high confidence. Analysts need data that can provide an intelligence view that reaches beyond the physical environment represented within a traditional map or satellite image and into the human landscape within which are nested the true roots of conflict.

The frequency and resolution at which satellites can now collect imagery enables analysts to confirm mobilization of militant groups, assess damage and monitor activity on the ground. Combined with human landscape data, these capabilities present new opportunities to not only plan more strategically, but also effectively reduce operating costs and accelerate time-to-mission.

How is your organization preparing to mitigate future conflicts and crises?

The Human Landscape in Action

Analytic modelling of open source data is strongly aligned to the needs articulated by Defense and Intelligence leadership at this year’s GEOINT 2017 Symposium. Human Landscape datasets are created by compiling and enriching features from hundreds of sources and validating them against high resolution satellite imagery. These comprehensive datasets, which are on GSA schedule for US Government approved commercial products, allow analysts to focus on advanced analysis and pattern discovery.

See how the Human Landscape can help you identify areas of high risk, enabling more strategic and efficient deployment of resources.

Visit http://explore.digitalglobe.com/Human-Landscape-Syria.html

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