NIMA: Imagery is everything

The National Imagery and Mapping Agency is building what could be one of the largest archives of digital images in the world as part of a project to provide military installations with fast access to its latest data.

NIMA provides the Defense Department and intelligence agencies with images, image intelligence and geo-spatial information in support of national, security. Since July, the agency has been incrementally fielding a massive digital library of images that will dramatically decrease the time it takes to get critical data to those who need it.

Satellites around the world feed multiple terabytes of data into the database, and as soon as one server is updated, all servers around the world are updated.

The National Information Library eventually will store five years' worth of digital images and archive 25 million images requiring 6,600 terabytes of storage. The NIL is part of the NIMA library family that includes the Command Information Libraries and Image Product Libraries.

"The NIL is the centerpiece of [this network] and has a tremendous capacity to support its customers," said Joe Stooks, NIL program manager at NIMA. "It can ingest five terabytes of data per day and handle 80,000 queries each day, responding in 15 to 20 seconds."

BAE Systems, the prime contractor, is building the database using Geodetic DataBlade, a unique technology produced by Informix Corp. Unlike other software that distorts images of the Earth by projecting them onto flat planes, the Geodetic DataBlade treats the Earth as a globe with no edges and no distortions, according to the company.

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