Working off the same map and sharing it  

The NATO Geospatial Policy envisages the capability to "Operate off the same map to ensure mission success" recognizing that Geospatial Information is the foundation for any operational picture, as exemplified by the traditional situation map Consequently, the ability to digitally combine geospatial with additional geo-located information is fundamental to modern systems.

Currently the main processes of Geospatial Information (GI) do not work in an optimal way as the NATO GeoSpatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) Architecture and Implementation Plan states; achieving the required sharing is a difficult and laborious process that could put NATO readiness at risk. One of the main challenges to be addressed is to determine how to exchange GI in a timely and efficiently manner. Main goals are to make the "operate off the same map" in a timely and efficient manner happen, and to ensure that the NATO stakeholders embedded in an operation, from the strategic to the tactical level, get the right data at the right moment.

Deficiencies spotted include:

  • Environmental information is disparate in nature and difficult to access
  • lack of interoperability and common functionality
  • limited cross-system interoperability
  • GI provision/dissemination between member nations is still primarily based upon the shipment of Hard Disk Drives
  • Different standards generations used by nations
  • cannot combine maps easily due to heterogeneity of (proprietary) map formats, but also map symbology, map scales, map coverage incompleteness and obsolescence
  • nature of the Big Data prevents from free sharing by shipping

  The Needs  

To this end, it is recommended to promote an open, modular and flexible SDI to enable re-use, agile development and interoperability, and allow the integration of current and future capabilities. Goal is to accelerate the designation, dissemination, and exchange process, significantly reduce the delay between the designation and the moment in which data is effective and available, thus improving readiness and responsiveness.

The SDI report recommends to NATO to enhance Geospatial readiness, responsiveness, interoperability, and service efficiency. As the means for achieving those it is proposed in particular to improve Geospatial Data Management; increase standards use; enhance technology; and improve governance. Further, all services are mandated to be Web-based, including both Geospatial information and analytics services.

Notably, both the SDI report and the International Federated Mission Network report stress the importance of offering spatio-temporally enabled, analytics-supported, decentralized datacubes with hybrid data fusion capabilities.

In detail, the following needs are stated, based on the principles of control - protect - share:

  • rapid access to shared, trusted information
  • flexible and efficient information sharing capabilities
  • federated information domain supporting multiple concurrent missions, Federated Mission Network (FMN) compliant
  • automatic provision and maintenance of a common data picture, with ideally no man-in-the-middle activity necessary
  • datacubes, with service support through the OGC/INSPIRE WCPS geo datacube analytics language

  The Cube4EnvSec Contribution  

Cube4EnvSec will advance the state of the art on each of these capability needs by demonstrating feasibility and usability of decentralized Big Earth Datacube services.

  • integration of GIS, GeoMetOc, and further data categories into a uniform service paradigm;
  • a spectrum of clients able to access the information space, from a "thin client" web map browser to complex analytics;
  • overcome the Big Data burden through a federated, decentralized architecture which scales seamlessly vertically and horizontally, leveraging innovation to improve the management, discovery and processing of GI through cloud & fog computing, federation, etc.;
  • seamless communication between fixed and mobile data sources and consumers, from cubesat over laptop, desktop, large-scale data center, up to heterogeneous federations of all those;
  • Data security by design, keeping local administrators in full control even while engaged in federations.


  • NATO Geospatial Policy, MC0296/3, 2016
  • NATO NIAG Study Group 261 - NATO GeoSpatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) Architecture and Implementation Plan, 2022
  • NATO NIAG Study Group 264 - Information Sharing in an International Federated Mission Networking Environment (INTFMN), 2022