A little more on the Bin Laden search history… It seems it wasn’t only the NGA who was chasing Bin Laden with geospatial technology. This article from GOOD Politics shares details of how 2 years ago a crew from UCLA was conducting geospatial analysis to identify Bin Laden “Hot Spots”. The students, working under UCLA geography professors Thomas Gillespie and John Agnew, used geographical theories and GIS software to home in on the world’s most wanted fugitive. The students used a geographical theory called island biogeography to home in on what turned out to be Bin Laden’s real hideout. Gillespie was so impressed by his students’ work, they published the findings in the MIT International Review (PDF).
I seriously doubt that the class was ahead of the US Intel community in their findings, however, it’s a great story to show off just how powerful good research combined with geospatial technology can be!