By Mike Wallace
The world is inundated with spatial data today like never before. Devices such as satellites, drones, smartphones and all the Internet of Things (IoT) are constantly monitoring movements and collecting information, and geospatial technology has advanced to the stage where this data can be contextualized and analyzed at scale. Such technologies can now be in the hands of virtually any size business or government agency down to a person on the street, with an increasing number of established companies and startups pivoting toward or entering what is expected to be a massive new geospatial economy. GEO261 recognizes the fundamental role of geography in shaping our lives. Co-founded in January of 2020 by Brian Monheiser and Anthony Calamito, the company brings together their decades of experience in both the private and public sectors, providing geospatial analysis to real-world scenarios and harnessing the power of location technologies to help customers apply the “where” to their models.
Anthony and Brian recently made time to talk to AGS about their deep backgrounds as practitioners, geo-evangelism, and how GEO261 is more than just consulting, but also building lasting relationships with clients and cultivating a more diverse, engaged geography community. Having logged over 703,647 miles together across 16 countries and 158 cities since meeting in 2008, Brian and Anthony were already well-practiced in working from anywhere in the world, collaborating across time zones and through the unpredictability brought on by the pandemic. Life changes and restructuring at their previous companies at the tail end of 2019 helped steer them toward starting a new firm – something they had been discussing for years.
GEO261’s initial projects have included consulting on geointelligence with Planet Federal, GeoOwl, cybersecurity with CyberReason, and work with Infinadeck, using location technology to design an omni-directional treadmill that when used in virtual reality will open new possibilities for military and first-responder training. The two focus on growing deliberately and organically, leveraging their years of domestic and international experience in implementing location technology for the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Federal Civilian Agencies, and non-government organizations. This expertise, along with extensive backgrounds in business development and market strategy, makes GEO261 uniquely qualified to be guiding businesses with geospatial technologies, though Anthony and Brian view their roles more as trusted advisors. Serving that function requires not only building and maintaining honest relationships with colleagues and clients, but being evangelists for geography and location technology.
Long time AGS corporate partners, Brian and Anthony have a history of investing in and growing the geospatial community. They have worked as instructors at George Mason University and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and Anthony is currently an external advisor to North Carolina State University’s Center for Geospatial Analytics. Keenly aware of a paucity of geographic education in K-12 schools, they took the lead in sponsoring the American Geographical Society’s AP Teachers Fellow program from their positions at Boundless in 2016, funding professional development for Advanced Placement Human Geography teachers. In addition to coordinating seminars and bolstering existing professional networks, Anthony and Brian are dedicated to shaping the future of geography by expanding the reach of organizations like AGS and finding new ways to support geography students and programs, especially by channeling resources to women and people of color who are underrepresented overall in the geospatial field and particularly in leadership positions. Keeping GEO261 lean allows them to stay involved with this mission while providing expert and customized service for clients.
Automation is increasingly the tool of choice in both the public and private sectors and as artificial intelligence (AI) improves, everything from basic operations and analytics to security and disaster response can be handled by algorithms and through machine-learning. However, an over-reliance on the technology can come at the expense of real geospatial and critical thinking, knowing which buttons to push but not necessarily why and lacking an in-depth understanding of the science behind the software. After 20+ years in the field, Brian and Anthony have been everywhere from senior roles at Esri and Mapbox, engineering and marketing products and managing large teams, to the forefront of open source software and hardware development and entrepreneurial innovation. Both their high stakes experience as practitioners of geography, whether that’s designing Enterprise GIS for the United States Special Operations Command or creating geospatial tools to support Marine Expeditionary Forces, forged an understanding that what they do isn’t just about the technology or a specific mission, but about the geography that serves the people involved and on the ground.
Find out more by going to the GEO261 website.