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Syria: Identifying Risks and Understanding Conflict With DigitalGlobe’s Human Landscape

Andre Kearn, Radiant Senior Director, Commercial Services, of DigitalGlobe, writes on how satellite imagery and geospatial intelligence can be used to map the human dimension of conflict. Using the Syrian Civil War as a case study, Kearn demonstrates the utility of DigitalGlobe’s Human Landscape.

Political unrest and religious disputes have led to waves of military coups and sectarian violence across the Middle East. Now, as extremist groups infiltrate the Syrian civil war, it is critical that intelligence and humanitarian organizations understand the human dynamics of power and influence. But to understand them, we must first identify them.

More than a map

Syria is physically surrounded by a number of conflicts. Sectarian divide and economic influences ripple across Syrian borders.

By combining satellite imagery with thousands of open data sources, DigitalGlobe’s Human Landscape creates a comprehensive perspective of a given country. A rich dataset of both geospatial and human geography data, Human Landscape enables users to see what is happening where and who is involved or impacted.

Demographic data, like religion and ethnicity, inform intelligence analysts as they identify areas of potential conflict or anticipate civilian needs in times of crisis.

From local protests to civil war

As the opposition formed and Syria descended into violent civil war, people fled their homes. Some left the country, while others were internally displaced. Human Landscape provides the data needed to consider what factors like conflict points, ethnic or religious tension, and age might have contributed to population shifts.

Using Human Landscape data layers, analysts can monitor the movement of populations within Syria.

Additionally, breaking down individual cities by human dynamics and proximity to points of interest (such as supply routes or military assets) enables organizations to more accurately determine safe travel routes. Human Landscape lets analysts skip the laborious effort of data collection, accelerating time-to-mission.

The Human Landscape in action

DigitalGlobe is meeting the growing need for analytic modelling and mapping of open source human geography data around the globe for its government and commercial customers every day. Our comprehensive Human Landscape datasets, which are on GSA schedule for U.S. government-approved commercial products, allow users to focus on advanced analysis and pattern discovery.

See Human Landscape in action with our interactive story map and learn about the possible factors that made Khan Shaykhun, Syria, the target for a chemical attack this past April.

This essay was originally published on the DigitalGlobe Blog here.

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