As part of the Haiti relief effort, the U.S. military is sharing imagery from one of its high-end, high-flying spy drones, the RQ-4 Global Hawk.
This image, shot yesterday by a Global Hawk, shows damage to the National Cathedral in Port-au-Prince. U.S. Southern Command is sharing the images so that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and relief groups can get a better picture of the situation on the ground.
Danger Room pal Paul McCleary has much, much more detail at Ares. Colonel Bradley Butz, with the Air Force’s 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing told at McCleary that the Global Hawk was originally supposed to fly over Afghanistan, but was retasked yesterday to Haiti, where it spent 14 hours on station and shot hundreds of images.
“Today we’re going after another 1,000 images, which will all be unclassified,” McCleary quotes Butz as saying. “SOUTHCOM will provide it to whoever needs it.”
Sharing imagery from a spy drone may sound like an unusual move, but it’s part of a larger push within the Pentagon to declassify and share imagery in stability operations and disaster relief. Back in 2008, former Pentagon chief information officer Linton Wells told Danger Room how he had pushed for combatant commanders to collaborate more freely with NGOs and aid groups. Wells, in fact, oversees a Pentagon-funded project called STAR-TIDES, which tries to encourage the military to tap social networking and trust-building arrangements in disaster response.
SOUTHCOM, in fact, seems to be taking a page from STAR-TIDES. The command has set up two collaborative portals: One that is accessible to partner nations, international organizations, NGOs and academia; a second, designated “for official use only” (i.e., unclassified, but restricted) that is open to users across the Department of Defense.
[PHOTO: U.S. Department of Defense]
Click to view image: 'GLOBAL HAWK'
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