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Geographic Information Systems

Where in the World Challenge

A Geospatial Intelligence Challenge, Anticipating the Future of Human Security
The US Census estimates the world population to exceed 9 billion in the next 30 years. This anticipated rapid growth of population will drive changes in land-use, freshwater depletion rates, increased urbanization, increased competition for food and energy, all in the global context of a changing climate. Additionally, information and communication technologies continue to evolve at exponential rates connecting billions of people around the globe like never before and opening up new ways to live and work in the 21st Century. Understanding the impacts of this dizzying combination of both societal and environmental change of human security is a very complex challenge.


The objective for National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) Involvement is to stimulate students interest in geospatial career paths with the intent to develop the multi-discipline future workforce and spark new thinking to approaches for GEOINT anticipatory analysis. The Intent for “Where in the World” challenge is to develop anticipatory spatiotemporal analytic skills to create and report “from the future” on the five best and five worst places to live on earth in the year 2025 based on ONE of the following criteria:

  • Overall best and worst places for all combined factors
  • Overall best and worst places for Water Resources
  • Overall best and worst places for Energy Resources
  • Overall best and worst places for Food Security
  • Overall best and worst places for Health
  • Overall best and worst places for Risk for Natural Disaster
  • A “place” could be a region, a country, a region within a country, or a large city.


NGA will provide volunteer judges for the competition. Washington College will provide a competition web site for registration and submissions but will not be involved in the judging process. 

There will be three winners selected from each educational category; high-school undergraduate, and graduate with runner-ups identified. At a minimum each winning team, and their members, will receive a public recognition of their achievement. Additional categories for recognition are possible.

Team Composition

A team may be comprised from high school, undergraduate or graduate student members. Each team must have a faculty sponsor. A suggested team size would be two to five students. Mixed teams are permissible.

Team Eligibility

The competition is open to all high schools, undergraduate and graduate colleges and universities worldwide. 

Teams are free to use any and all date sources they discover as long as they include UN data. While data is always an issue, this challenge is intended to be an analytic, exploratory, and visualization, multi-media geospatial narrative challenge rather than a data collection and cleansing problem. 

Each team is free to determine the criteria for least vulnerable and most vulnerable places and may include such human security considerations as stability of civil organization (political, civic, social), communications infrastructure, economics, education, healthcare, transportation, water resources, land use, climate, ethnic divides and religious conflict. The desired end-product should be a list of least and most vulnerable places presented in an interactive visual geo-journalism manner that allows exploration of the variable and weightings and increases our collective understanding of the world. One of the most important parts of this competition is that the teams clearly describe the analytic methods used to make the choices.


Each team must register for the competition by Friday, February 28th, 2014. This will allow for proper planning to determine the number of volunteer judges needed for the competition. 

The registration must include the following information: 

Student Team Members

  • Student names
  • High Schools/University/College
  • Class standing for each team member (high school, undergraduate or graduate)
  • Email address for each team member

Faculty Sponsor

  • Faculty Name 
  • Title 
  • Department
  • High School/University/College
  • Email Address

A faculty member may sponsor more than one team.

Online registration is now closed however if you have a team that really wants to compete we may consider granting a deadline extension.  Your team would be at a disadvantage though as the other teams are already going full steam ahead.


Each team will submit the following:
  1. A geo-journalism style presentation on the web accessible media of the team’s choice.  Teams may use YouTube or any other software or methodology they decide to present their results. The submission must include a URL link so the judges can access the presentation via the Internet.
  2. A written research paper shall be provided.  The requirements of this paper are that it clearly describes the process taken to produce the results and shows the analysis.  Length and format are up to the team but the final product must be submitted in a pdf file format.  At a minimum it should discuss these key steps:

How did your team plan to research the question?

What was your research methodology?

What did your analysis show?

How did you decide to communicate your results

While there are no detailed guidelines, standard research methods and elements are acceptable.  However, if your team can get your point across in a unique and novel way this is okay as well.

A place to upload submissions will be provided at a later date.


Awareness of the existence of the challenge by December 20th . The challenge timeline milestones/key events are as follows:

Registration of Teams Deadline:  February 28th

Deadline for Team Submissions:  May 15th

Winners Announced:  July 15th

If you have questions you may contact Stewart Bruce at sbruce2@washcoll.edu.  We will try to get a FAQ Wiki posted to show questions and answers.