Imagery intelligence (IMINT) is the technical, geographic and intelligence information derived through the interpretation or analysis of imagery and collateral materials. It includes exploitation of imagery data derived from several category of sensors: electro-optical (EO), radar, infrared (IR), multi-spectral or laser.
IMINT is collected via satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles, reconnaissance aircraft and ground systems. Future space-based satellites will equip imagery analysts with higher resolution, wider swath and increased number of images; “big data” from space will be available. One of the main difficulties stems from the need to better coordinate and leverage the skills of analysts and operators within effective and efficient operational workflows and the new features available as a result of the development of analytical tools. A particular area requiring effort is imagery obtained from space-based Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). This partly due to the relative complexity of both tasking and managing SAR systems/data when compared with the mass of well-established procedures for optical images. SAR images are considered as a source of valuable information to support military operations and the decision-making process. Greater exploitation of SAR imagery, or when combined use with electro-optical images, takes full advantage of SAR’s unique 24/7 and all-weather characteristics. This increases the merits of increased investments made by several European Ministries of Defence on SAR satellites. The procedures to analyse data are based on operational workflows. Those are defined as series of activities that typically encompass several tasks: e.g. requesting satellite imagery, geolocation, filtering, features extraction and target recognition. Each operational workflow is normally tailored on the basis of operational scenarios (ports, airfields, urban, lines of communications, industrial compound, etc.). The tasks can be performed by skilled analysts or by operators that might use tools developed for that purpose.
Based on this background, EDA initiated a project called REACT (Radar imagEry application supporting ACTionable intelligence). The REACT project had the objective to better manage the complexity and reduce processing times to give greater value to imagery data. Based on this initial project, the follow-on REACT 2 study is perform the following tasks:
- Building on REACT-defined workflows, the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) operational procedures will be defined for planning and collection phases of the IMINT cycle and to task SAR satellites. The procedures shall support the analyst in the definition of the most effective SAR collection planning to respond to the IMINT requirements associated to operational scenario / tasks.
- To make the workflows defined in REACT practical by the imagery analysts through producing an interactive methodology that will guide the operator in the execution of the different steps for the processing and analysis phase of the IMINT cycle (e.g. type of workflow, processing tool, image analysis, processing options).
- To produce a software tool for implementing the tasking procedures and providing interactive methodology for the workflow execution. Open standards should be analysed and used where practical and that fit with prospective user CIS infrastructures. The tool shall be developed to be a demonstration prototype status for transition to an initial operational capability.
Study Experts Working Group
A strong interaction between all the stakeholders is foreseen. To this purpose a dedicated Study Experts Working Group was formed to provide guidance to the definition and the development of the study activities. The Study Experts Working Group is composed of operational experts in the imagery exploitation domain belonging to EDA, EU SATCEN, FRONTEX and to their relevant communities.
3-year project starting November 2017.