NIMA teams support homeland missions

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The National Imagery and Mapping Agency has formed support teams to work with civilian and defense agencies that are responsible for homeland security to ensure that those organizations share a common operational picture and geospatial intelligence.

Jack Hild, deputy director of NIMA's Office of Americas, said geospatial intelligence, which includes imagery, imagery intelligence and geographic information capabilities, is used to support numerous homeland defense missions including:

* Security operations for special events, such as the Olympics or Super Bowl.

* Disaster response and recovery.

* Specific visualization requests.

In fact, last weekend's Super Bowl in San Diego represented the first time that a common operational picture was available — via a secure Web connection — to about 35 government organizations that were not necessarily located in the immediate area, said Joseph Drummey, chief of NIMA's North America and Homeland Security Division.

"They were able to interact with the information and tailor the information to their needs," Drummey said during a Jan. 29 panel discussion at AFCEA International's NIMA Industry Day in Washington, D.C. He added that based on the feedback from that event, it could serve as a model for future security events and disaster response activities.

NIMA also is working with the U.S. Geological Survey to get detailed mapping data on 133 U.S. cities "produced, geo-coded, integrated and de-conflicted," Drummey said, adding that 25 percent of his employees are dedicated to the program.

The 18-month effort, which is still in its infancy, will combine USGS' national map program's topographic and geographic data with NIMA's geospatial intelligence, including data on critical infrastructure.

"We're struggling through it now," Drummey told Federal Computer Week. "We're waiting for funding...and it's all being done in coordination" with USGS.

Other than some minimal resources taken from other NIMA missions, the program does not have any financial backing, but it is included in NIMA's future budget requests. Hild said the agency is working with USGS, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Steve Cooper, chief information officer at the Homeland Security Department, to identify funding needs and solve those requirements.

Tina Pinkard, deputy chief of NIMA's Homeland Security Department support team, said that NIMA has been working for 10 years with many of the agencies that now make up the new department, including the Secret Service, FEMA and others. She added that NIMA is continuing to deploy staff officers and geospatial analysts to those customers and may deploy personnel to the Coast Guard, the Customs Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the Transportation Security Administration in the future.

"NIMA's role continues to evolve and be defined as the Department of Homeland Security's mission areas continue to evolve and be defined," Pinkard said. She likened the frantic pace of the transformation to trying to change a car's tires while it is still in motion.

The Defense Department's Northern Command, which was started in October and is responsible for ensuring homeland defense capabilities and supporting civilian authorities, is also a new NIMA customer and partner.

Bob Wimer, deputy chief of NIMA's Northcom support team, said the agency eventually will provide five imagery analysts and five geospatial analysts to Northcom in order to provide the commanders with whatever geographic or infrastructure maps they need to accomplish their intelligence or defense missions.

As an example, Wimer said that if a plane were flying out of control over some part of the United States, NIMA can work with the Federal Aviation Administration to provide Northcom commanders with a list of critical infrastructure assets, population centers or military targets that may be in the flight's path.


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