St. Louis Set to Become World Leader in Geospatial Intelligence

A dinosaur is headed to Downtown St. Louis, but this one is not from the past. In fact, it’s all about the future.

“Geosaurus, Powered by Bayer” Innovation Resource Center is the newest addition to T-REX, the advanced technology, innovation and entrepreneur development facility at 911 Washington Avenue. The addition of Geosaurus, along with The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s new headquarters in north St. Louis, will solidify St. Louis as the global center of excellence in the geospatial and location information industry.

Geospatial Explained

Geospatial technology takes location, proximity, time, and space into account and records it. Examples of this technology include drone photography, satellite imagery, and Global Positioning Systems (GPS). When you use your GPS for directions or search a location on Google Earth, you are directly using geospatial technology. Cool, right?

Those are just some ways consumers use the technology, but geospatial intelligence is used in an ever-growing number of industries, from private companies to government agencies and military branches.

“Urban planning, emergency response, precision agriculture—all of these endeavors benefit from geospatial technology,” said Mark Tatgenhorst, Geosaurus’ program director, who now leads the center after spending 33 years working at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

A Center of Excellence

The main objectives of Geosaurus, explained Tatgenhorst, are to encourage innovation and leadership, support workforce development, and connect our regional geo cluster. “That means bringing together industry, academia, government, military, and the startup community together so that we can advance geospatial technologies,” explained Tatgenhorst.

Geosaurus will also serve as a hub of information about geospatial technology and intelligence, open to anyone who wants to learn more about it. “We’re setting up this open environment, that allows people to come in and understand what the geospatial industry is doing,” said Tatgenhorst.

Plans for the space include interactive displays and classrooms for local academic institutions to teach formal classes on the subject. The center will also serve as a talent pipeline for companies like Bayer, which awarded T-REX with a $500,000 grant last year to support the creation of Geosaurus.

Primarily, though, the space will house early-pipeline startups that have a desire to collaborate with fellow innovators in the field.

“We’re looking for those companies that are willing to share data amongst the group, bring challenges so that they can be collectively worked on, and who plan on collaborating with this innovative mix of people,” said Tatgenhorst. The program is currently in the evaluation stage of determining who will be the founding tenants.

One of the first organizations moving into Geosaurus will be the Countering Wildlife Trafficking Institute, which is working to harness geospatial analytics and predictive modeling for efforts to stop global poaching.

Digging Into Geosaurus

Construction began in February on the 14,760-square-foot space and is expected to be completed in January 2020. In the meantime, T-REX is hosting a monthly happy hour and discussion series called Geosaurus Unleashed, which revolves around the geospatial and location-based technology industry. The event connects local geospatial professionals with those who want to learn more about the technology and its future in St. Louis. 

September’s event was all about drones, featuring panelists in fields such as commercial, DoD, and disaster support. The group discussed the technology, capabilities, and challenges surrounding Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). The next event will focus on how to achieve precision and accuracy in the field, something that is vital to geospatial intelligence.

Geosaurus is focused on the future. The future of geospatial technology, the future of the people who learn and use the technology, and the future of St. Louis.

“From an economic standpoint we’re not only looking to attract companies to come to St Louis,” said Tatgenhorst, “we’re also looking to graduate the companies out of that early startup phase and have them exit into the St Louis Community to further drive and increase the vitality of the economic development of the city and the region.”

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