Say hello to Africa’s only Geospatial Intelligence Data Centre

The United States defense has used geospatial intelligence to manage its national security in the past couple of years and it has yielded good dividends with the cracking down of terrorist organizations around the world. This was achieved by its massive investment and commitment in its space programs. 

In a bid to emulate the United States, Nigeria has also invested heavily in Space science and technology and created what is today considered Africa’s biggest Space program, in order to exploit space science and technology.

Nigeria is currently the only African country with a functioning Geospartial Intelligence Data Centre. To collect data on the magnitude required for imagery and mapping, you need credible data source, i.e commercial satellites, surveillance and reconnaissance aircrafts and unmanned aerial vehicles, all of which Nigeria has in operation.

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Nigerian Air Force Geospatial Intelligence Data Centre, Abuja.
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Nigerian Air Force Geospatial Intelligence Data Centre, Abuja.
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Analyst at the Nigerian Air Force Geospatial Intelligence Data Centre, Abuja.
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Analysts at the Nigerian Air Force Geospatial Intelligence Data Centre, Abuja.
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Analysts at the Nigerian Air Force Geospatial Intelligence Data Centre, Abuja.
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Ultra modern situation room of the Nigerian Air Force Geospatial Intelligence Data Centre, Abuja.

 

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Analysts pur over sattelite imagery at the Nigerian Air Force Geospatial Intelligence Data Centre, Abuja.
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Analysts pur over sattelite imagery at the Nigerian Air Force Geospatial Intelligence Data Centre, Abuja.
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A computer specialist at the Nigerian Air Force Geospatial Intelligence Data Centre, Abuja.

Nigerian Satellites and National Security

As stated earlier, Nigeria currenyly has Africa’s biggest space program. Effective use Nigeria’s space based infrastructure can improve national security. A number of factors have made space more important for national security. These factors arise from the changing regional security environment, where Nigeria is being blanketed with military bases, there is greater risk and competition.

Consequently, it is only a matter of time before many nations observe the benefits satellites provide for military operations and began to acquire or develop their own satellites. Countries are turning to space for national security for three principle reasons:

 

The political prestige and international influence space activities bring.

The technological capabilities that space programs create or reinforce.

The informational advantage space assets and services can bring to military and security operations and to strategic planning for security.

Nigeria is rapidly becoming a space exploration juggernaut, with more sattelites in orbit than the rest of the continent combined.

Combining Geo-spatial Intelligence and National Security

Incorporating Geospatial Intelligence into Nigeria’s National Security will go a long way in protecting lives and property, and most importantly maintaining the peace and internal stability of the nation.

It gives the Nigerian Air Force that first look, that peek around the corner, so they can basically give solid intel to forces on what they can expect before they even get there. Intel such as enemy positions, what equipments are over there, so they know exactly what to do and how to effectively get the job done.

For a country like Nigeria with very limited number of strike platforms, ISR is very critical for the NAF. They get all of their intelligence sources from surveillance aircrafts and unmanned aerial vehicles. Integrating Geospartial Intelligence will greatly increase the efficiency of Nigeria’s robust ISR network.

They can verify or confirm intell received from human sources by visually confirming if the information given is accurate and detailed, because an error or mistake can be the difference between life and death.

NigeriaSat-2 

It was launched in August, 2011. It is a high resolution satellite with area coverage (swath width) 600 by 600km, with the ability to rapidly produce accurate mapping to update the existing information and acquiring new mapping information.

 NigeriaSat-X

NigeriaSat-X was launched in August, 2011 alongside NigeriaSat-1. It is the first sattelite designed and built by Nigerian Engineers and has a swatch coverage of 700km.

NigComSat-1R

This is arguably Nigeria’s most important sattelite. NigComSat-1R was launched to replace the Chinese launched NigComSat-1 sattelite that de-orbited and fell back to earth. Luckily the sattelite was insured. This sattelite is a critical ICT backbone infrastructure to drive Nigeria’s ICT revolution in providing revenue diversification for the nation.

For example, in 2016 the National Aerospace and Development Agency (NASRDA) beat stiff competition from NASA, the European Space Agency  (ESA) and the Russian Space Agency to win the contract to manage the sattelite program of Belarus for 15 years, bringing in a massive $600 million

That’s a lot of money for a nation whose Space program started in 2006. Perhaps more importanly it proves to the government Nigeria’s intellectual capacity can be a huge source of revenue for the nation if properly harnessed and as such investing in space exploration is a profitable investment.

The sattelite also offers a cost effective solution and affordable access to meet Nigeria’s telecommunications, broadcast, aviation, maritime, defense and security needs. The satellite has over 15 years life-span.

Strategic Security

Nigeria’s National Security, which i term strategic, extends beyond the ECOWAS nations and encompasses all of Africa and beyond. Let’s face it, Nigeria was at its best during the administration of the late Gen. Murtala Muhammed (may he rest in peace).

He envisaged a strategic scope that broadened our National Security, and indisputably empowered our operational capabilities. Sadly this looks like a bygone golden era compared to the crop of  leadership Nigeria has been plagued with in recent times.

The present crop of leaders fail to see that what constitutes a strong National Security entails the fusion of a strong Micro (internal security) and Macro security (regional commitment) apparatus. You cannot isolate one componemt from the other. If there is a breach in any of these factors, thus national security cannot be achieved.

However the creation of the Geospartial intelligence Agency is a step in the right direction into the 21st century battlespace and Networkcentric warfare.

Ground forces 

Visual data is invaluable to Army intelligence operations. Aerial imagery, Geospartial data , full motion video and other electronic monitoring are used to help determine target coordinates and identify enemy weapons and positions, navigate natural or man made obstacles and are critical in the defence and combat plans.

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Tactical monitoring situation room of the Nigerian army
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Tactical monitoring situation room of the Nigerian army

To accomplish this complex data the Nigerian military can now rely upon the specialized skills of the Geospartial Intelligence imagery analysts. These guys identify, analyse and report targets observed on imagery from sattelites and airborne systems to provide army personnel with critical intelligence about enemy forces and  combat operations support.

Simply put they are Nigeria’s eye in the sky. They transform visual data into valuable intelligence and tell commanders what they need to know.

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