• Tom Batty

Situational Awareness is the Must-have Skill for our Uncertain Times

If you’re looking for a detailed analysis of the potential effects of climate change look no further than the Pentagon.

Since 2010 it has been reporting publicly to the U.S. Congress on the security risks a changing climate will have on the world and in particular the United States. Similar studies and reports are issued here in Canada too as government agencies around the world seek to understand and plan for the potential emergencies, uncertainty and instability caused by earth systems in flux.

For me, this is the heart of military training: learning to develop situational awareness.

I first heard the term as a young still-in-high school military recruit in 1979. I didn’t know what it meant but a gruff old sergeant quickly educated me; “it’s knowing about what’s going on around you so you don’t get f@*#ed!” Simple enough.

Through over four decades in the Canadian military, situational awareness (S.A., in military abbreviation-speak) was an ever-present topic of discussion and education. Situational awareness is recognizable in Sun Tzu's The Art of War (5th century BC). Militaries around the world have focussed on situational awareness for hundreds of years and have made it a key component of strategic, operational and tactical planning. For example, in 1988 I attended the U.S Army Armor Officers Advanced Course where I was introduced to the process known as Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield, an extremely detailed, microscoping of the ground, enemy, friendly forces and other factors designed to ensure detailed situational awareness which, in turn, leads to better decision making. In the military, situational awareness is all-important.

Which is how I now find myself building a new start-up a few kilometres down the highway from my old office at CFB Gagetown, one of Canada’s largest military bases and training facilities. When I first saw the technology that sits at the heart of 3DPlaneta’s software, I was blown away. I knew this breakthrough 3D visualization technology could be transformative for the art and science of situational awareness.

While my situational awareness expertise is drawn from my military career, through my work here at 3DPlaneta I have seen the importance of situational awareness to other sectors. Situational awareness has been adopted by almost every profession and industry, and in a world facing pandemics, fires, drought, floods and the mass migration that follows, situational awareness could be one of the key skills required to succeed in this century.

We’ve been told that we are in the midst of the ‘big data revolution’ and I agree with that assessment. Why? Because more data can lead to greater accuracy and faster response time, in other words, improved situational awareness.

Better and more timely decisions. It’s what we all want. It’s what our world needs.