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Remote Sensing and GEOINT

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NGA Evolves Mission to Next Phase of Intelligence: Immersion

Thursday, April 17th 2014
By Joe Francica

In her keynote address at the GEOINT Symposium, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) Director Letitia Long continued to refine and define her vision for the preeminent government geospatial technology agency. It's a vision that began in 2010 with identifying the needs of the warfighter when the U.S. was still engaged in two wars and pushing geospatial information to them with a drive for mobile applications.

Now, continuing the mission driven by the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, to more completely share information among the intelligence agencies, reduce redundant systems and integrate information from multiple sources, Long's goal is to generate a sense of urgency. This urgency is manifest in pushing both information and technology down closer to where it's needed, in real-time and perhaps by reducing the barriers to which agencies, both at the federal and local level can benefit from the expertise of NGA. Long articulated her vision this way:

Intelligence integration will succeed only if NGA is the driver for that integration and GEOINT serves as the very foundation. AT this critical moment, we can not rest. Together we must press forward with an even greater sense of urgency whether we face an adversary, a political crises or a natural disaster we must continue to drive the leading edge of geoint. That is exactly why we at NGA are accelerating our momentum. That is exactly why  we are building the platform for community wide integration.  This  platform is NGA's declaration of our principals and priorities that drives integration forward and deliver the next phase of intelligence:  Immersion.

Immersion to Long is living, interacting and experimenting with the data in a multimedia, multisensory experience with  GEOINT at its core. That vision, while geocentric, articulates an understanding that few government policy-makers appreciate: multivariate and multi-sensor information is hard to humanly interpret visually and a geographic framework offers a perspective no other graphical medium can provide. Long continue:

To evolve to this phase, the NGA must complete our transformation from a provider of static products into a resource for dynamic geoint content, analysis and services. This platform reflects our priorities that enables us to complete our transformation and shape the immersive experience for the entire intelligence enterprise.

Long also noted that they are the first intelligence agency to release some of their software as open source code on GitHub. The first code released is an application called GeoQ, and in collaboration with FEMA offers first responders a series of "event pages" that can be customized to the needs of the individual local government public safety agency. This is a recognition on the part of NGA that some national emergencies begin at the local level.

In a press release issues on April 11th, "GeoQ provides workflow management and integrates imagery and analysis from multiple sources, such as photos from smart phones and news broadcast footage, to help identify disaster areas and extent of damage, said Ray Bauer, technology lead for NGA’s Readiness, Response and Recovery (IWG-R3) team. In an early test of the application, the IWG-R3 team supported a pilot project called "Blueprint for Safety" (see related article on this pilot) that was developed by GEO Huntsville, a non-profit economic development organization supported by Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.

Bauer continued, “We built GeoQ on all open-source frameworks to make it easily shareable with our mission and response partners. This allows them to integrate the software into their own visual display systems. What we’re hoping for now is to spark interaction with the GitHub communities to improve the code. As long as you have access to the Internet, you can be a part of the solution.”

This new vision for NGA positions the organization to support not only the integration of multiple data sources but a vertical integration between local, state and federal agencies.

Photos courtesty of the USGIF

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