Northeastern University’s GIT Program Uses Data From Space

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Last year, the Northeastern University was awarded the honor of being one of the top 17 Centers of Academic Excellence in Geospatial Sciences in the country, by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

The university has long been developing research on geospatial data.

The NU’s Geographic Information Technology (GIT) program, in the College of Professional Studies’ graduate degree, was first launched in 2009.

As an online master’s degree program, it was designed to help the professionals working in the geospatial intelligence career path, which is rapidly growing.

Cordula A. Robinson, an associate teaching professor in the GIT program, has often taught her students how to use sophisticated software and technology in generating and analyzing data from space.

They use information gathered from satellites, drones, and other aircraft to capture images of the Earth.

They are also able to utilize figures and data from space agencies like NASA to map out the Earth’s geological and geographical areas.

Robinson said that there is a huge amount of data from outer space, made available by NASA, municipal, and federal departments.

Education in GIT is in a trail­blazing phase. The NGA-USGS is looking to Northeastern as a Center of Academic Excellence to help create a structure, a path forward.”

Robinson’s own research makes use of such technology and data.

She has focused her studies on Lebanon, where she wanted to find out about the presence of groundwater in places with very dry and hot climates.

Her GIT tools have helped her track the entry and exit of rain and snow in the mountains, the coastal freshwater discharges, and even identify primary pollution sources.

The tools and data from satellite imaging are only part of the study, though, as there are still local engineers and filed scientists who collect the sample needed for the research.

What is phenomenal is that the use of data gathered from space can help engineers develop programs like better irrigation systems.

A few years ago, people have not been able to fully realize the potential of data from outer space in coordination with other disciplines like geography, but now, the geospatial workforce is rapidly increasing.

According to Robinson, there will be an increase of 27% through 2018, and that other areas like national security, international humanitarian work, disaster and emergency response, and logistics management, will be looking to use geospatial intelligence tools.

The GIT is an online program, so students can be situated from Boston to Germany. Robinson said that they get new enrollees every year.

The capstone project for the program this year had the students analyzing the San Joaquin Valley drought and its effects on California farming, the attributes of fatal car accidents in a specific area, and the characteristics of serial arson behavior.

All these cases can be analyzed and prevented with the use of the GIT data and tools.

Robinson said that mastering remote sensing and image science is not a skill set that’s easy to obtain because such trainings are usually only offered in specialized programs.

The NU online GIT program is helpful in a way that anyone who wants to learn is not obstructed from learning it because of the way the university makes it accessible and available through their certificate programs.

Rob Clark
 

SchoolCampus.org admin staff managing editor

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