NEWS

Joint Task Force Homeland Defense (JTF-HD) analyst
takes map-viewing and imagery to new heights

By Marie E. Kennedy and Darrell D. Ames, JTF-HD


Marie Kennedy, Joint Task Force - Homeland Defense (JTF-HD) Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Geospatial Intelligence
(GEOINT) planner, at work in the JTF-HD Joint Operations Center during the October, 2008 American Samoa Earthquake/Tsunami disaster relief effort.
Marie Kennedy, Joint Task Force - Homeland Defense (JTF-HD) Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) planner, at work in the JTF-HD Joint Operations Center during the October, 2008 American Samoa Earthquake/Tsunami disaster relief effort. (Official JTF-HD Photo by Darrell D. Ames)

How often do you look something up on a map? Do you select a view with satellite imagery? Maps and imagery are two basic components of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT). Joint Task Force – Homeland Defense (JTF-HD) utilizes GIS and GEOINT data sources, processes, methodology, and production through an extensive network of partnerships coordinated through the JTF-HD GIS/GEOINT planner, Marie Kennedy.

"GIS and GEOINT assessments, analysis, and products are derived through the intelligence cycle," said Kennedy. "The intelligence cycle process is traditionally aligned along the following steps: task, collect, process, exploit, and disseminate. Modern utilizations of the intelligence cycle may transfer to an alternate process involving the steps: task, post, process, and use."

Kennedy evaluates the desired effectiveness and efficiency per mission needs and applies the appropriate organizational and process-oriented response per mission. The "geo" application of an information product focuses on the locality-based understanding of the provided information. She applies a thorough understanding of "what does this mean?" and "what does the user need to know that can be answered with GIS/GEOINT?" throughout all phases of the intelligence cycle in order to ensure useful data is delivered to the user.

JTF-HD’s highlight tool in the application of GIS/GEOINT, especially useful for Defense in Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) operations is accessed through a tool titled the "All Hazards Decision Support System", or AHDSS. The AHDSS tool enables a common, internet-based platform enabling interactive access to maps, imagery, and GIS analysis. Available at www.pdc.org/ahdss , Federal, State, or Civil Defense members are encouraged to sign up for a username and password to gain access.

Marie Kennedy, Joint Task Force - Homeland Defense (JTF-HD) Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Geospatial Intelligence
(GEOINT) planner, enjoys the tropical climate Hawaii provides Marie Kennedy, Joint Task Force - Homeland Defense (JTF-HD) Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) planner, enjoys the tropical climate Hawaii provides. (Photo by Marie Kennedy, JTF-HD)

Other organizations such as non-profits and NGOs are also encouraged to utilize and sign up for AHDSS. The advantage behind AHDSS concerns its correlation of real-time, automatic feeds of main hazards, such as typhoons and earthquakes, directly from National Sources such as National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). This information, along with GIS data, quickly enables all users to make decisions faster. This benefit is important in order to respond to natural disaster events while understanding complications concerning the Pacific area of interest. "Metadata is the key to retrievability. It makes it useful," said Kennedy.

The experience of working with the JTF-HD team provides the opportunity to apply Department of Defense (DOD) skills, assets, and resources against a problem set expanding beyond the boundaries of traditional, state-on-state war. In JTF-HD’s Joint Operations Area (JOA), threats to the United States homeland may encompass a multitude of events from an act of terrorism to the cyclical occurrence of natural events such as storms.

The effect of all events must be mitigated to ensure the United States citizens’ quality of life and the ability of its DOD to be effective in its mission. JTF-HD is tasked with the unique mission to ensure the safety and defense from all threats in its area of responsibility and proudly serves the people of the United States.

Kennedy hails from Clinton, Ark. and has always had an inter-disciplinary approach to problem solving. "Good design necessitates good information," she said.

Marie first encountered GIS at an AEGIS (Arkansas Education for the Gifted and talented in Summer) camp at the age of 16 held at the University of Arkansas. With an extensive background in math and sciences, she extended into a new field of study - fine arts - to graduate from the University of Central Arkansas with a degree focusing on Graphic Design.

Marie Kennedy's visual explanation of the way she Marie Kennedy's visual explanation of the way she 'used to encounter the thinking/behavior dynamic.' Kennedy is the Joint Task Force - Homeland Defense (JTF-HD) Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) planner. (Photo by Marie Kennedy, JTF-HD)

Kennedy served in the United States Army, 2003-2006, as an Imagery Analyst, assigned to the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) including Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) from 2005-2006. She worked for ITT Space Systems Division, as a requirements analyst, 2007-2009, in Vienna, Va., and joined JTF-HD in August 2009. She continues to engage in design through in-depth information visualization studies with highlight interest in the design process and applications across personal and professional life.

"Information is useful", Kennedy said, "when it serves as an indicator, as a pointer. It’s all metaphor. How we manipulate a metaphor’s correlating form is this thing we call language, whether that be visual, verbal, or through other senses. We use metaphors to indicate something, whether that be advocating change by persuasion or a broadening of understanding for the purpose of creating a shared history. Most interestingly, the act of translating across metaphors reveals the form’s possessor. We, especially GEOINT professionals, can see this – it’s present in everything we see and especially in what’s hidden, what’s in the shadows."

JTF-HD, with its Defense Coordinating Officer and Element, is based at Fort Shafter, Hawaii and is designated as the Homeland Defense coordinating agency between the Department of Defense and the civilian authorities in Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands as well as three foreign governments in the JOA to include the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau . Working closely with Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, and military organizations in the Pacific, JTF-HD develops a Common Operational Picture and helps coordinate implementation of a comprehensive Critical Infrastructure Protection Program.