GEOG 885
Advanced Analytic Methods for the GEOINT Professional



Why this course?

The ultimate objective of geospatial intelligence work is to produce knowledge. Good geospatial intelligence has separated the important from the less important and conceptualized a spatial order out of apparent chaos. Such analysis is not automatic, and the analysis is subject to many uniquely spatial fallacies, biases, and confusion between cause and effect, technical necessities, group-think, and individual analyst failings. Even the best geospatial analyst will sometimes run afoul of one of these pitfalls. The capable geospatial analyst knows what the pitfalls are and works for objective analysis and assessment. Geospatial analysts should be conscious of their reasoning processes. Quoting Richards Heuer (p. 31), "they should think about how they make judgments and reach conclusions, not just about the judgments and conclusions themselves."

How is work accomplished? Academia and the geographic community almost exclusively teach the scientific method as a method to create knowledge. But, the truth be known, it seems the scientific method is seldom used in geospatial intelligence work. What method is used? I suggest that the intuitive method is the predominate method for producing geospatial intelligence. I call this the seat of the pants method which:

  • has the well known tendency to permit a wide range of biases to corrupt the analytic product.
  • is difficult for the analyst to replicate.
  • it is impracticable to teach since the results are based on intuition which comes with experience.

Is the solution to use the scientific method? Not necessarily. Some suggest the scientific method, which starts with a single hypothesis, is not appropriate for developing intelligence (Heuer, 2009). As Don L. Jewett stated, the problem with starting with a single hypothesis is that a bias can arise owing to an emotional attachment to the hypothesis and the temptation to misinterpret results that contradict the desired hypothesis (“What’s Wrong with Single Hypotheses,” The Scientist, Nov. 2005). However, other methodologies provide traceable and repeatable means to reach a conclusion.

We are not diminishing the importance of intuition and experience, rather we are proposing in this course a mixture of science and intuition as a means to produce good geospatial intelligence.

Lesson Objectives

At the end of this lesson you will be able to:

  • Describe where the analysis process fits within the intelligence process.
  • Describe geospatial analysis in terms of an art or science.
  • Summarize the geospatial aspects of the DC Sniper Case.

Course Roadmap

The Course Roadmap is intended to help you understand where we are in the overall learning process and to place our dual case study and project focus into context.

Lesson 1, which is highlighted here, includes a case study and a project.
Figure 1: Course Roadmap
Click for accessible description

The Course Roadmap highlights where students are within the course. For Lesson 1, students will be working on the DC Sniper case study and will focus on the Introduction and Review. See the table, below, for more information.

Lesson 1 is one week in length. (See the Calendar in Canvas for specific due dates.) To finish this lesson, you must complete the activities listed below. You may find it useful to print this page out first so that you can follow along with the directions.

Steps to Completing Lesson 01
Step Activity Access/Directions
1 Read the Lesson Overview and Checklist. You are in the Lesson 01 online content now. Click on the Next Page to continue.
2 There are three different styles of reading that are referred to in the lessons:
  • Scan: Do not deal with all of the content, but search through the material for a specific purpose or a specific word (or its synonym). Scanning is used for such purposes as finding the answer to a particular question.
  • Skim: To skim, read a page by reading the headings and first sentences of each paragraph or section.
  • Read: The purpose of this style is to understand the concepts and arguments that the text contains, and it should be preceded by the Skim reading style.
3 Participate in the Graded Discussion. Complete the DC Sniper Geospatial Thinking Exercise. Post your analysis to the Lesson 1 Discussion Forum.

To participate in the discussion, please go to the Lesson 1 Graded Discussion in Canvas. (That forum can be accessed at any time by going to the Canvas link on the menu bar and then selecting Lesson 1 Graded Discussion from the appropriate weekly module.)
4 Read Lesson Summary. You are in the Lesson 1 online content now.


If you have any questions now or at any point during this week, please feel free to post them to the GEOG 885 - General Discussion Forum. (That forum can be accessed at any time in Canvas by clicking on the Modules tab. The General Discussion forum is listed under the Orientation Section.)