Modeling and Simulation for Gaming, Training, and More

Collaboration and planning integral to best serve the GEOINT Community


Modeling and Simulation (ModSim) is an integral part of video game creation that uses virtual environments to represent real-world scenarios. However, ModSim is becoming increasingly prevalent throughout the GEOINT community, particularly among gamers that apply their passion for video games to the demystification of the geospatial intelligence problem set.

Tony Frazier, executive vice president and general manager, Public Sector Earth Intelligence at Maxar, moderated a GEOINT 2023 Symposium panel dedicated to discussing what the role of ModSim should be for it to best serve GEOINT practitioners.

Like many of this week’s participants, panelists called for open, collaborative, and consensus-driven standards to accelerate the utility of ModSim for GEOINT. “An open set of standards reduces everyone’s headache,” Max Ozenberger, senior solution engineer at Esri, explained. He expressed frustration over losing precious time when having to ingest, reprocess, and visualize large datasets typical of ModSim applications.

Ryan Gauthier, computer scientist at the Army Geospatial Center, U.S Army Corp of Engineers, conveyed similar sentiments. “When you make an asset for gaming…one of the first things you do is think about efficiency,” he said. “You have to go beyond ‘I need to model the Earth at whatever resolution’—I might have to decimate it down so it can be consumed or transmitted across some network.”

They spoke of the necessity of generating data that is multipurpose and versatile. “When you build a product, be a little forward-looking for who else might have use for it,” Gauthier added. “Plan to make it reusable.” As the number of attributes in a dataset exponentiates and the geospatial community continues to gain an increased ability to collect, time is fleeting. Planning for an increase in problems, needs, and data will save time in the long run, especially for a field whose future is as long and bright as GEOINT’s.

“Game development and game engines—when combined with more traditional geospatial data—could really unlock new possibilities for use cases,” Gabby Getz, 3D Graphics at Cesium, shared. “Things that make game engines shine like physics, weather simulations…they can bring a whole new level to geospatial that we haven’t seen before.”

“The visual fidelity that game development and game engines bring is fantastic,” she said.

ModSim use cases are variable and ever-evolving, but panelists described personal vignettes to include construction, disaster relief, terrain characterization, resource management, tactical collaboration, climate preparedness, historical event playback, architectural recreations, the development of dashboards and virtual reality environments, and more.

Getz continued: “The ease of use is fantastic—game engines don’t require specialized knowledge in order to use them…there’s plenty of YouTube tutorials out there on how to start.” Panelists agreed and urged listeners—especially young professionals—to go out and begin building whenever they can.

Gauthier also emphasized the importance of asking questions and being curious. “A lot of people are really passionate or really proud to talk about what they do,” he said. “While building a knowledge base, you can also build a professional network, and ultimately, build better games.”

Accessibility is at an all-time high, and as Ozenberger put it, “Better than curiosity, better than building, is Googling something…don’t be afraid to go to the second page and really dig into a topic.”

“Exploring—that’s what this week is all about,” Frazier said.

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