GEOG 885
Advanced Analytic Methods for the GEOINT Professional



Analysts learn by doing, and the best analysts learn from their mistakes. However, mistakes in intelligence work are dreaded, and one never wants to hear the words "intelligence failure." Intelligence failures are often disastrous, and lives may be lost. It is important, therefore, to constantly work at improving the mind and never accepting old habits of thinking. Methods of thought have evolved with respect to intelligence analysis, but they appear to have largely excluded geospatial analytics.

Dr. Rob Johnston in his work Analytic Culture in the US Intelligence Community: An Ethnographic Study 2005, finds no baseline standard analytic method for the Intelligence Community. He also finds the validation of data is questionable, and there is much more emphasis on avoiding error than in-depth analysis. Overall, his research suggests the need for serious study of analytic methods in the communities of practice.

It has also been my experience that there is no baseline standard analytic method for geospatial analysis. The most common practice is to develop a workflow. If the results are reviewed, it is usually conducted as a limited peer review on the basis of previous workflows. This likely produces a bias toward confirming earlier views.

While we discuss critical thinking, the validation of input geospatial data is questionable. Dr. Rob Johnston also points out that none of the analytic agencies knows much about the analytic techniques of the others, and there tends to be an over emphasis on writing and communication skills rather than on analytic methods.

Lesson Objectives

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

  • Describe the geospatial analytic method.
  • Comprehend how the method helps to avoid the pitfalls of geospatial analysis.
  • Describe when to apply foraging and sensemaking.

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 2, you will be forming teams for the team project, the Jonathan Luna Case. 

Lesson 2 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 02
Step Activity Access/Directions
1 Read the Lesson Overview and Checklist. You are in the Lesson 02 Checklist now. Click on the Previous Page to read the Overview.
2 Read the Lesson 02 online content. You are in the Lesson 02 Checklist now. Click on the Next Page to read the lesson content.
3 Read Lesson 02 online content.

Scan The Sensemaking Process and Leverage Points for Analyst Technology as Identified Through Cognitive Task Analysis

Scan Intelligence Analysis: Once Again
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.
4 Participate in the Graded Discussion. Post to the Lesson 2 Discussion Forum your team and an initial list of possible analytic questions relevant to the course project's general problem area.

To participate in the discussion, please go to the Lesson 2 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 2 Graded Discussion from the appropriate weekly module.)
5 Read Lesson Summary. You are in the Lesson 2 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.)