Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation: Timor-Leste

Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation: Timor-Leste


The Australian Department of Defence is involved in programs of geospatial intelligence and mapping in neighbouring countries, through the Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation (DIGO).

DIGO is responsible for geospatial intelligence and producing maps for the ADF, such as digital mapping support of offshore areas, contingency support packages, three-dimensional visualisation packages, and graphical and animated products to support operational planning and activities.

These activities have military applications, as geospatial analysts “can derive information including maps, charts and digital topographic information to support a range of military tasks, such as battlefield analysis, employment of weapons systems and troop movements.”

Further to an agreement with the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor, DIGO has been mapping Timor-Leste since 2001. On 13 November 2007, DIGO handed over maps to the Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, as well as intellectual property rights to enable re-production of the maps for use by Timorese forces.

Government sources

Mapping out their future, Justine O’Brien, Defence Magazine, June 2005

“One such example has been a comprehensive program of aerial photography and mapping of Timor- Leste, which began in 2001 following Defence signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET)…Over the last four years a contractor has taken thousands of aerial photographs of Timor-Leste…

“The mapping data produced to date has already been helpful in assisting Timor-Leste and UNTAET in conducting the nation’s first census. The project is due to be completed by the end of 2005…

“When the mapping project is complete, an Intellectual Property Deed between the Department of Defence of Australia and the Government of Timor, signed in conjunction with the existing MOU, will pass all intellectual property rights for the mapping data to Timor-Leste.

Australia maps Timor-Leste (Australia fo mapa ba Timor-Leste), Press Release, Prime Minister of Timor-Leste’s office, 13 November 2007

“On Tuesday, 13 November, the Chief of the Australian Defence Force, …handed over to His Excellency Xanana Gusmao, Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, geo-spatial data that will assist to unite East Timor.

“The hand-over of 500 map sheets of each of the 34 maps that cover East Timor represents the most up to date mapping data available for the country…The hand-over completes a long standing Memorandum of Understanding with the Australian Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation and Timor Leste to provide topographical data of Timor Leste not previously available, or replace the out dated mapping.”

DIGO Maps: Timor-Leste, Defence Magazine, Department of Defence, Issue 4, 2007-08, pp82-3.

“For the past seven years, Defence’s commitment toward the security and stabilisation of Timor-Leste has been considerable. Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation’s (DIGO) part in this has been the provision of maps under arrangement of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Australian Department of Defence (ADOD) and the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET).”

Australian Combined Battalion Group (AUSCOMBATT IX), Operation Citadel Factsheet Australian Defence Force

[AUSCOMBATT IX includes] “Military Geospacial Information detachment from the 1st Topographical Survey Squadron.”

See also:

Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation (DIGO) in Solomon Islands