Geodata

NGA: Seeking full immersion in geospatial data

Placeholder Image for Article Template

NGA is pioneering activity-based intelligence, which Director Letitia Long said will help the agency find the "unknown unknowns, and discover them more quickly than ever before."

Imagine an environment based on seamlessly integrated intelligence that is so immersive that geospatial analysts in the intelligence community are able to "live within the data."

That futuristic-sounding scenario is on pace to be reality by 2020 at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, according to NGA Director Letitia Long, who spoke at a conference hosted by Esri in February.

NGA's Map of the World will serve as the backbone for the agency's innovative geospatial efforts, which are outlined in the Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise initiative.

Decades ago, static maps were usually enough to satisfy the geospatial appetites of the 17 intelligence agencies, but major advances in cloud computing, mobile technology, networking, data transfer and computing in general now allow for immediate access to geospatial data processed by NGA.

Long said the Map of the World is the platform for all geo-intelligence, multisource content and knowledge, with corresponding analysis and reporting stored there as well. Imagery from satellites, maritime and air safety data, and a smorgasbord of other types of geospatial information are available to analysts with the proper credentials. And it all has been processed, curated and meta-tagged.

Using the Map of the World, analysts can focus on a geographic point in time and see layers upon layers of what is happening. The data is not, however, limited to geographic information. The Map of the World can also use social media and countless other datasets to highlight any object of interest, which can include human targets, at a highly detailed level to better show the true story.

Map of the World information is then made available via the Globe, a Web portal through which NGA shares intelligence information.

"In the past, you had to access multiple databases and search by hand for hours, sometimes even days, to find our information. That doesn't cut it in our rapidly changing world," Long said. "Map of the World provides a seamless, integrated environment so analysts can live within that data. [Our interest] is all about national security -- geospatial content far beyond any commercial offering.... All this content [is] tailored for specific defense, intelligence community and senior decision-makers' requirements."

NGA's Map of the World and its current geospatial capabilities will see improvements in the coming years, the biggest of which might occur through big-data analytics, Long said. NGA is pioneering activity-based intelligence, which Long said will help the agency find the "unknown unknowns, and discover them more quickly than ever before."

The automated process allows analysts to find answers to questions more quickly because its systems sift through petabytes of geospatial data in real time. Long said the bottom line is more insight so "our policy-makers and warfighters make better decisions."

"Everything exists, every activity occurs, and everyone is somewhere at some time," she added.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group